Warren Central baseball sends three on to the college ranks
Published 10:34 am Friday, May 19, 2023
Warren Central’s baseball players turned talent and hard work into success, and success into opportunities this season.
Three players — infielder Kylan Landers, outfielder Blake Channell and catcher Seth Sterling — signed with junior college programs during the course of the season.
Landers signed with Hinds Community College, Channell with Mississippi Delta, and Sterling with Mississippi Gulf Coast. Warren Central only had one player sign the past two years, but the group that brought home the program’s first region championship since 2016 ended that dry spell in a big way.
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“I told everybody, as long as we win people are going to get scholarships. They’re going to see how we developed into better players our senior year,” Sterling said.
Sterling was a three-year starter at catcher for the Vikings. He batted .262 in 80 games in that span while earning a reputation as a strong defensive catcher.
He said he got on Gulf Coast’s radar when they came to scout Channell. Although Channell wound up going elsewhere, Sterling and Gulf Coast had a mutual interest that wound up leading to a scholarship offer. He signed in March.
“They came and watched Blake. I did good and they started looking at me. They came to another game and I kept on doing good, and they wanted me,” Sterling said. “I loved the campus. The coaches were really nice. It’s a new coach and he’s doing something I like.”
Landers was a starting middle infielder for the Vikings the past two seasons. He steadily improved as a hitter and raised his batting average 70 points from 2022 to 2023. As a senior he hit .297 with eight doubles, two home runs and 17 RBIs.
He showed some potential as a pitcher, too, with a couple of solid late-season starts. He allowed one run in six innings in a 2-1 win over Northwest Rankin on April 12 that clinched the Region 6-6A championship.
“It’s a blessing that I get a chance, an opportunity to keep playing. See if I can keep going after this. Keep the train rolling and see how far it takes me,” Landers said of signing.
Landers said Hinds started recruiting him as a sophomore, and it wasn’t a hard decision to sign there. He put his name on the scholarship papers back in November during the early signing period.
“I’m excited. It’s a big step,” Landers said. “It was not being far away from home, and the coaches are great. They’re easy to get along with everybody. The way they develop people from good baseball players to great baseball players, to get them to the next level.”
Channell, meanwhile, wound up at Mississippi Delta thanks to a statewide tour of Mississippi’s junior colleges last year. He took de facto visits to several of them while playing summer baseball, and somewhere along the way came to the attention of Delta’s coaches.
“This summer I played with the Jackson 96ers and we were playing all over Mississippi at all the different jucos. I ended up hitting really well in the summer, so they eventually found me on Twitter and we just clicked from there,” Channell said.
Channell started for three seasons for Warren Central, but had his best year in 2023. The leadoff hitter led team in average (.370), home runs (4), runs (34), hits (30). walks (16) and stolen bases (17).
As a table-setter he helped power Warren Central’s offense while leading the team to a 17-11 record — it had won 20 games the previous two seasons combined — and its first region title since 2016.
“It was a great year for the team. We went from two losing seasons and barely making it to the playoffs, to winning the district and getting a bye to the second round,” Channell said. “I think this year everyone was a lot more focused on what we were doing. We started to listen to the coaches more instead of everyone trying to do their own thing. That led us to what we did.”