FOXWORTH, Miss. (WDAM) - Colby White feels like a heavyweight boxer when he steps on a baseball mound.
For the Mississippi State junior, it’s like stepping into a ring. Three punches – three pitches – is all he needs to knock out his opponent.
“Just when I get in, I know I have three outs to get,” White said. “It’s me vs. whoever steps in the box. They’re going to catch hell for three outs.”
White is true to his word – though he lets his arm do the talking.
In one season with the Bulldogs, the right-hander’s earned the moniker “Night Night” Colby White. MSU’s “setup man” boasts a 3.16 earned-run-average in 26 appearances, striking out 47 of 92 batters faced while opposing hitters average just .174 against him.
Yet, the heavyweight was once a welterweight coming out of West Marion High School. At 5-foot-10, 140 pounds, White had just one scholarship offer when he graduated in 2016 – Pearl River Community College.
“Nothing was polished,” said PRCC head coach Michael Avalon. “It wasn’t perfected by no means as far as his delivery. I could remember coach [Anthony] Izzio that first day of practice walked up to me and said, ‘That guy’s going to throw really, really hard one day.’”
The fall of White’s freshman year in Poplarville, he was throwing 89 mph, occasionally breaking the 90 mark.
He gained weight and confidence in two years with the Wildcats and it all came together in Starkville. White’s consistently topped out at 97 mph this season. He walked off the mound against Georgia on April 28 having thrown a baseball 100 mph.
“I just know I picked up a baseball that day and it felt like a golf ball,” White said. “It felt tiny and light. I don’t know, just some days you feel great.”
“You don’t see triple digits on the radar gun very often,” said former West Marion baseball coach Brandon Thornhill, who coached White for three years. “You can go to the major leagues right now and you may see it happen out of three guys.”
“Honestly, he really didn’t know how good he could be,” Avalon said. “And we kept telling him, ‘Colby you’ve got a gift. You’ve got something special.’”
If you ask White, his one year at State flew by about as fast as one of his pitches. Playing college baseball has been a dream – so when he heard the Tampa Bay Rays drafted him at No. 188 overall, White couldn’t believe it.
“Spencer [Price] said, ‘Colby you just got drafted in the sixth round.’ And I thought he was joking. Then I started thinking about how hard I’ve worked just to get here and just to be able to pitch here. Thinking about that, I started crying a little bit.”
White becomes the first West Marion graduate to be drafted in the major leagues. He plans to sign with the Rays following Mississippi State’s season.
For now, the “Foxworth Flamethrower” travels to Omaha, Nebraska hoping to help the Bulldogs win their first national championship.
TD Ameritrade might be a bigger ballpark than Dean Griner, but it’s a stage White has been preparing for his entire life.
“He kind of believes he’s been given a gift and this is something he dreamed about,” Thornhill said. “People believe in him.”
“You hear kids talk about guys that play at this stage and stuff, and every kid wants to,” White said. “And that’s kind of molded me in to being able to succeed at this level, just seeing how hard everybody works [in Foxworth]. A very blue-collar place. [I’m] just thankful to be from there.”