HANCEVILLE, ALA. — Wallace State sophomore Easton Kirk achieved one of the rarest feats in baseball this season, winning the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Triple Crown.
The Piedmont native led the conference during the regular season in all three major offensive categories, finishing with a .480 average, 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. Kirk blasted a pair of homers in last weekend’s regular-season finale vs. Marion Military Institute, securing the impressive accomplishment.
“Winning the Triple Crown was honestly one of my goals coming into the season. I felt like I could do it. Once the end of the year approached and I was close, I definitely knew I could pull it out. It made it even better we closed the regular season winning a lot of series,” Kirk said. “I’ve try to have confidence every time up and make sure to swing at good pitches.”
Kirk seeks to improve even more on those numbers as Wallace State opens postseason play Friday in the ACCC/Region 22 Tournament in Ozark. The Lions, the North Division’s second seed, play Chattahoochee Valley at 4 p.m. All games are streamed lived at www.jockjive.com
Wallace State enters the tournament on a hot note. The Lions (29-15), coached by Randy Putman, have won nine of their past 10 games and their final three regular-season series.
The Lions finished as the ACCC Tournament runner-up last season.
“I think we’re hot at the right time. Winning the tournament would mean a lot to us since we came close last year. We want it for coach Putman as well. We just have to battle through every pitch and every inning,” Kirk said. “Nothing comes easy down there. It’s a grind.”
After earning Class 3A 1st-team All-State distinction at Piedmont, Kirk splashed upon the scene last season for Wallace State, earning All-ACCC recognition after hitting .364 with 10 homers and 51 RBIs. He added 16 doubles and scored 47 runs.
Kirk, a Troy University commit, has been even better this season. In 125 at bats, he’s added a .992 slugging percentage and had multi-hit performances in 18 games. His .480 average is 43 points higher than Wallace Community College-Dothan’s Luis Aviles.
Kirk has provided the offensive fireworks and consistency, while also playing solid defense at catcher and third base.
“I’ve learned so much as a hitter from coach Putman. In high school, I was worried about hitting home runs. I was a pull guy. Coach Putman has taught me how to use the whole field and to hit from gap to gap. It’s important to hit the ball to the opposite field. It makes it tougher on the pitchers,” Kirk said.
Putman has tutored a bevy of talented hitters during his 30 years with the Wallace State program, and Kirk ranks near the top.
“I’ve talked with coaches from around the league and no one can remember a player winning the league’s Triple Crown. It’s a great feat, no matter if it’s Little League, the ACCC or Major League Baseball. Easton is one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached,” Putman said. “He’s a very confident hitter and believes he’s better than any pitcher on the mound. He has good bat speed, balance at the plate and has a good knowledge of the strike zone. Easton knows his strengths and weaknesses and isn’t afraid to hit with two strikes. He’s developed tremendously here as a hitter.”
Also for Wallace State, Noah Fondren is hitting .333 with 19 RBIs and 32 runs scored, and Jack Haney hits at a .333 clip with four homers and 23 RBIs.
On the mound, freshman Jerry Dale Bowman carries an 8-1 record and 2.28 ERA into his first collegiate postseason tournament. Bowman, a Smiths Station native, was tied for the league lead in wins during the regular season and was fourth in ERA. He added two saves, tossing a team-high 67 innings.
Sophomore Garrett Brown has been a steady mound presence for the Lions as well. He has a 5-1 record with a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings.
Wallace State is seeking its eight ACCC title and first since 2006.
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