NW Mississippi signee Boolos fills unique role for WC as ace reliever

Published 10:45 pm Saturday, March 12, 2016

Like a lot of veteran players who have gotten older and wiser with age and experience, Brooks Boolos has some regrets about his younger days.

“I wish I could go back and take advantage of it even more, and realize how lucky I was and the chances I had, and learn more from the people who were older than me,” he said. “That’s what I try to tell our young guys now.”

Whatever missteps Boolos made when he stepped into Warren Central’s starting lineup as a freshman, it all seems to have worked out. Four years later he’s started nearly every game at shortstop, been the team’s closer out of the bullpen and a key cog in its re-emergence as a state power.

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He signed with Northwest Mississippi Community College in late January and is looking forward to playing there while also helping the Vikings’ push toward a division championship.

“I’ve always wanted to go to the next level. I always knew I was going to play high school baseball, but you never really know if you’re going to have the opportunity to play college baseball,” Boolos said. “Having the opportunity is amazing. It’s been a goal of mine, and when I get there I’m going to have a goal to go to the next level, and then the next level after that. You have to get that goal first before you get any others.”

Boolos has been in Warren Central’s lineup since midway through the 2012-13 season, first as a second baseman and then as a shortstop. He hit .320 as a sophomore and .329 last season.

He’s also earned a unique role on the pitching staff as the team’s closer. Boolos has nine career saves and has pitched in 29 of the 62 games in which he’s played over the past two-plus seasons. Almost all of his appearances have been in relief. In those 62 appearances, he has thrown a total of 51 1/3 innings.

So far this year, Boolos hasn’t allowed a run in six innings stretched across three relief appearances.

Boolos also played quarterback for Warren Central’s football team, and credited that sport with developing his arm to the point where he can pitch several times a week.

“Playing football, you throw every single day and it helps a lot. It keeps your arm in really good shape,” Boolos said. “Coming from short, my arm has never really bothered me that bad and I try to take care of it. My arm is pretty flexible.”

The closer position is one most high school teams don’t bother to fill. If a player can pitch well and has decent velocity, he usually becomes a starting pitcher. Boolos had the talent to be a pitcher. He locates his pitches well, has a fastball in the low 80 mph range and uses several different arm angles.

Oddly enough, the one thing he lacks — and the thing that led coaches to use him exclusively as a reliever — was stamina.

“I can’t last more than two innings as a starter. So they were like, ‘We can use him a lot as a closer.’ I think I pitched in more than half the games last year,” Boolos said. “My sophomore year I threw a lot in the closer role. Getting there early, being a sophomore closing, I blew some saves. But you just get ready. Now when I’m closing, nothing really gets to me. I can pitch in that situation. That’s the reason they have me there, is because I don’t get flustered just because of the experience I’ve had.”

Having an experienced pitcher who doesn’t get rattled is a huge asset, Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. He added that Boolos’ demeanor on the mound is what has made him so successful in the role.

“Nothing bothers him. That’s the key. He has ice water in his veins. That’s who you want to have with the ball when the game is on the line. That’s why he got it,” Douglas said. “He doesn’t throw 90, but he locates. He has good stuff. He throws strikes. He’s that mentally tough guy that you want to have the ball or to be at the plate when it matters.”

Although Boolos has been a valuable pitcher for Warren Central, he expects his days on the mound to come to an end when this season wraps up. Northwest Mississippi plans to use him solely at shortstop, he said.

That’s fine by Boolos.

He said he’s aware of his strengths and weaknesses, and will try to build his skills accordingly. His strengths include being a good defender and a solid line drive hitter, and he figures that’s what will carry him beyond the junior college level.

“There’s guys that hit home runs, and guys that get on base and steal bases. At the next level, I’ll try to be the guy that gets a hit. I’m not going to be some big power hitter hitting a lot of home runs,” said Boolos, who has never hit a home run in high school. “That’s when you start separating yourself, and you can’t be all in one. You’ve got to be yourself. I’m going to be the best me I can be.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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