WDAM All-Star: JCJC freshman Luke McKenzie

WDAM All-Star: JCJC freshman Luke McKenzie

ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - A year ago, Luke McKenzie was helping Columbia Academy to its first baseball state championship since 1996.

On Saturday, McKenzie will suit up for Jones County Junior College in its season-opener against Southwest Tennessee.

McKenzie led the hard-hitting Columbia Academy Cougars with a school-record 12 home runs in his senior season. He's hoping to make a similar impact as a freshman at JCJC and is eager to play for another program with championship pedigree.

"There's just a winning tradition," McKenzie said. "They ship players out every year to [Division I] and the [MLB] Draft and it's just something to look forward to coming in. The coaches are going to put you in your right place after your two years…There's some dogs out here. It's a totally different ball game. The intensity level's so much higher than high school. It takes some getting used to but once you get rocking and rolling, it's pretty fun."

"Luke's one of the most fun to coach because he's the same guy every day," said third-year JCJC head coach Chris Kirtland. "As a freshman, coming in with a lot of physical talent, his energy level is through the roof. It's really fun to coach those guys that are the same person every day."