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Warren Central’s Vantrel Reed wins Post’s top honor for the second time

In 2018, Vantrel Reed was good. He felt like he could be better.

The Warren Central shortstop put in some extra time in the batting cage last offseason to change his approach at the plate and fix some holes in his game.

In 2019, Reed was indeed better.

The senior raised his batting average 20 points. He cut down on his strikeouts and errors. The one thing that stayed the same was his status as the best all-around baseball player in Warren County.

Reed hit .414 this season and led Warren County in hits (36), RBIs (25), doubles (10) and runs scored (30). He was also one of Warren Central’s best pitchers, and for the second year in a row is The Vicksburg Post’s baseball Player of the Year.

Reed is the ninth consecutive Warren Central player to win the award, and the fifth two-time winner in its 25-year history. He’s the first player to win it in back-to-back years since St. Aloysius’ Stephen Evans in 2009 and 2010.

“It feels good,” Reed said. “This has probably been my best year, because I feel at the plate I had an approach every time I went up there and I took every game serious because I knew it was the last of my high school career and I couldn’t take it for granted.”

Reed said a more aggressive approach at the plate helped him excel this season. He struck out only seven times in 109 at-bats. In 2018, he struck out 22 times in 117 at-bats. Some of his stats dipped slightly from last season — most notably he had five fewer doubles — but he was still well ahead of his peers in most categories.

“Last year I struck out 20-some times and this year I only struck out seven. I tried to be more aggressive this year, but last year I was missing pitches too much and making errors. I had to stay calm and play the game right, and I knew it would all be good,” Reed said. “It’s something that clicked during the offseason grind. It’s the work I put in, so during a game I know I’m going to attack and do what I did in the offseason.”

Reed anchored the Vikings’ lineup all season and finished on a seven-game hitting streak. His contributions to their success went well beyond what he did at the plate, however.

He only made four errors in 42 chances over the last 17 games of the season, and once again was an ace pitcher. He finished 4-2 on the mound, with a 3.23 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 39 innings. He allowed two runs or less in six of his nine starts.

“He’s been one of the best, if not the best, all-around players that I’ve ever coached,” outgoing Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “He can do it all. And he was never going to ask to do something. He did what you asked him to do, and he did it a hundred percent. He got the ball on Friday night and if you told him five minutes before the game or five days before, he was ready. He thrived in pressure situations.”

Reed said that keeping a level head, and being able to immediately flush mistakes, was another key to his success.

“I’ve always been a calm person. If you worry about that error, you’re going to make another one,” Reed said. “But if you stay calm, nine times out of 10 good things are going to happen. If you worry about the bad things, you’re going to continue to do bad things. So you’ve got to stay calm and level and nine times out of 10 you’re going to make the play.”

The honors and accolades have poured in for Reed. He was selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 6A All-State team, and played in the state all-star game. He’s signed with Hinds Community College.

“It’s great, because ever since you were little you always wanted to sign and go on to the next level. That’s why we play,” Reed said.

Douglas called him a rare and special player.

“It’s very rare in this day and age to get somebody who’s as mentally tough as he is good, and he was really good,” Douglas said. “It’s very rare you’re able to see players able to flush things. With Van, if he had a bad at-bat he didn’t take it to the field. If he made an error, he didn’t bring it to the plate. He was just the ultimate mentality guy that you want to coach.”

Vicksburg Post Players of the Year
2019 – Vantrel Reed, Warren Central
2018 – Vantrel Reed, Warren Central
2017 – Christian Oakes, Warren Central
2016 – Conner Wilkinson, Warren Central
2015 – Marcus Ragan, Warren Central
2014 – Carlisle Koestler, Warren Central
2013 – Hunter Austin, Warren Central
2012 – Cody Waddell, Warren Central
2011 – Beau Wallace, Warren Central
2010 – Stephen Evans, St. Aloysius
2009 – Stephen Evans, St. Al and Montana McDaniel, PCA
2008 – Stanton Price, Vicksburg
2007 – Michael Busby, Porters Chapel
2006 – Jordan Henry, Vicksburg
2005 – Michael Busby, Porters Chapel
2004 – Mark Different, Warren Central
2003 – Justin Henry, Vicksburg and Ryan Hoben, PCA
2002 – Brian Pettway, Warren Central
2001 – Taylor Tankersley, Warren Central
2000 – Robby Goodson, Vicksburg
1999 – Shea Douglas, Warren Central
1998 – Shea Douglas, Warren Central
1997 – Cody McCain, St. Aloysius
1996 – Stacy Williams, St. Aloysius
1995 – Stacy Williams, St. Aloysius
1994 – Jason Wilbanks, St. Aloysius

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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