Vikings’ ace Willoughby signs with Southern Miss, three others with junior colleges

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Brooks Willoughby is going from Vicksburg to Hattiesburg.

The Warren Central pitcher was one of 13 players who signed with Southern Miss as part of its signing class Wednesday, national signing day for sports other than football.

Willoughby, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound left-hander, was limited to 29 1/3 innings because of an injury last season but quickly turned into Warren Central’s ace. He had 13 strikeouts in a region win against Northwest Rankin, and finished with 49 for the season as well as a 1.19 ERA and 2-1 record.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Willoughby was also a Vicksburg Post All-County selection as a sophomore in 2022 when he was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.

Southern Miss’ position player signees were third baseman/pitcher Drey Barrett (Deatsville, Ala.); catcher Coy Clements (Hattiesburg/Oak Grove High School); infielder/pitcher DJ Layton (Fort Mill, S.C.); infielder Ty Long (Ripley); and pitcher/first baseman Chase Russell (Madison Central High School).

In addition to Willoughby, the Golden Eagles added seven other pitchers — Teague Broadhead (Fairhope, Ala.), Grayden Harris (Greenwell Springs, La.), Caleb Hughes (Woodstock, Ga.), Logan Pratt (Grenada/Kirk Academy), Cole Richardson (Ellisville/South Jones High School), Camden Sunstrom (Baton Rouge, La.) and Micah Wascom (Bogalusa, La.).

All of this week’s signees are currently high school seniors who will play for Southern Miss in the 2025 season.

In addition to Willoughby, Warren Central had three other players sign with junior colleges — outfielder Cade Fairley with Hinds, first baseman Cole Autrey with Mississippi Gulf Coast, and outfielder Ryan Nelson with East Central.

Fairley is a two-year starter for the Vikings who has batted .271 with five home runs and 30 RBIs in 50 games during his high school career. He hit .313 with three homers, six doubles and 17 RBIs last season.

Autrey transferred from St. Aloysius to Warren Central during the summer. Last season with St. Al, he tied for the Warren County lead with four home runs while batting .293 and driving in 22 runs .

Nelson was mostly used as a defensive outfielder and courtesy runner last season, but figures to step into a bigger role as a senior in the spring. He scored 10 runs and stole four bases in 2022.


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.

email author More by Ernest