Oak Grove baseball players overcome knee injuries to reach next level

A half-dozen knee injuries couldn’t stop four Oak Grove baseball players from taking their talents to the next level, as Kade Shannon (Jones College), Kris Jones (Pearl River), Nic Scucchi (Southwest Community College) and Alex Bolling (Southern University) signed letters of intent Wednesday. 

After a strong sophomore season with the Warriors, Shannon committed to Louisiana-Lafayette in September of 2017. Months later, Shannon tore his ACL and missed his entire junior campaign. After months of recovery, he returned to the football field this past fall, only to suffer another ACL injury and undergo another surgery. Along the way, the Ragin’ Cajuns pulled their offer, but that didn’t stop the first baseman from making his senior year a memorable one. 

He made his long-awaited return to baseball on March 7 when the Warriors visited Petal. Shannon recorded a hit in his first at-bat back and went on to hit .300 with 25 RBI in 27 games played. 

“I’ve learned to watch the game and be a student of the game at all times,” he said. “In the past, I thought of myself as just an athlete. Now I’m more invested in it. The saying goes, ‘You don’t really appreciate something until you give it away’. You get it taken away twice like that, you really appreciate all the time you have doing it.”

Shannon committed to Jones College five days after Oak Grove’s season and his Warrior career came to a close. 

“Jones came along, and they kinda saved the day,” he said. “I feel great there and am excited for the next few years.”

Like Shannon, Kris Jones drew early interest from Division I coaches before taking a detour. Jones tore his ACL during Oak Grove’s 2017 football season and missed nearly half of his junior year on the diamond. Jones batted .391 as a senior with 28 RBI and four home runs. He also logged 20-plus innings on the mound. 

“I learned a lot,” Jones said. “I learned that one thing just can’t stop you, and that you have to be stronger than what you mentally think you are.

“I’m thankful for recovery and another good season this year.”

Jones is expected to play in the outfield and pitch for Pearl River, a program that began recruiting him last summer. After a visit to campus, Jones was sold on becoming a Wildcat. 

“I love it there,” he said. “I get to stay close, and my dad will get to come to a lot of games and support me.”

Nic Scucchi says he was not short on support on his road back from the ACL and MCL injuries he suffered last June. 

“Doc’s [Kevin Mauldin’s] crew over here at Oak Grove really got me right,” Scucchi said. “Every day probably twice a day for a few hours, I’d go and work on my knee. I came back from it, and it was a good season.”

The left-handed pitcher logged 13-plus innings for Oak Grove as a senior, including three in a win over PCS on Feb. 28. Scucchi says the performance caught the eyes of Southwest’s coaching staff and led to the Bears extending him a scholarship offer, his first. 

“Realizing I didn’t have an offer and that this was [maybe] my last year to play baseball, it really got me up and working real hard to get to where I wanted to go.”

Unlike Scucchi and the others, Alex Bolling is going out of state and to a four-year college. The Southern University signee is Baton Rouge bound after hitting .394 and driving in 35 runs this past season. 

“I didn’t really have any offers or any looks,” Bolling said. “Then, probably about a week before Southern Miss played Southern [on March 6], the coach wanted me to come out and watch a game, and that’s where I met Coach [Kerrick] Jackson. I think about a month later, I went on a visit down there, and they offered me.”

Of the four who signed Wednesday, Bolling is the only one who didn’t suffer an ACL injury. However, he did undergo a meniscus repair last June. 

“It feels good to know a lot of hard work and a lot of hours went into it,” Bolling said. “A lot of pain, a lot of suffering, but it’s all paying off now.”

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