HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State’s baseball team recently had three sophomores officially commit to play with four-year institutions during the early signing period.
Sophomore pitcher Chad Smith signed with Ole Miss, infielder Chris Blakey inked with UNA and pitcher Landon Hughes signed with Georgia Southern.
Smith becomes the fourth Wallace State pitcher in four years to sign with a SEC school, joining Izaac Yarbrough and Robby Clements at Auburn and Bret Marks at Tennessee.
“It means a lot knowing the caliber of the guys who signed before me,” said Smith, a McAdory High grad. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to coach (Randy) Putman. He’s pushed me to levels I didn’t even know I could go myself. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him and others who have pushed me my entire life.”
Smith was one of the more durable arms for Wallace State last season, making six starts among 17 appearances. He went 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA and followed it up with a solid fall season.
“Chad has really improved since he’s been here. Where he’s at right now to the point he started with us is like night and day,” said Wallace State NJCAA Hall of Fame coach Randy Putman. “If Chad has a good spring for us, he’ll very successful in the SEC also.”
Blakey was one of Wallace State’s top utility men on the infield last season, and Putman believes that was attractive to the UNA Lions.
“Chris Blakey has got a lot stronger since last year, and he’s just a self-made player who works extremely hard at everything he does,” Putman said. “Chris is very versatile. He can play anywhere. UNA really liked that about him.”
Blakey, a Gardendale native, was tied for third on the team last season with 20 runs scored and he added seven stolen bases. After his Wallace State career is complete, Blakey will move from one set of Lions to another at UNA.
“My uncle played at UNA. I’ve always liked the campus and facilities. I can’t wait to get up there and play after I’m done at Wallace State,” Blakey said.
Hughes went 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA and four saves last season for the Lions, striking out 29 hitters in 27 innings as Wallace State’s closer.
“Landon Hughes has progressed like Chad Smith has. Georgia Southern is going to be a good place for Landon. I think he’ll excel down there,” Putman said. “Landon competes every game. He’s one of our top competitors and wants to be successful. We are counting on him this season to give us a lot innings.”
Hughes will be returning to his native Georgia when his Wallace State career is complete.
“I’m real excited to go to Georgia Southern. It was a place I loved when I was in high school,” Hughes said. “We’ve still got some work to do here though.”
Georgia Southern is located in Statesboro, Ga.
After missing the postseason in 2014, all three sophomores are glad a new season is inching closer.
“Last year wasn’t what we were hoping for at all. I feel like last year will give us a lot of motivation going into this season,” Smith said. “We’re going to go out there, try to win some ballgames and see what kind of run we can make.”
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State baseball sophomores, from left, Chris Blakey, Landon Hughes and Chad Smith recently signed with four-year programs. Blakey signed with UNA, Hughes with Georgia Southern and Smith with Ole Miss.
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