NJCAA DII Player of the Year Tate Parker commits to Southern Miss

Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 12:40 AM CDT
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POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - There may be an invisible pipeline from Poplarville to Hattiesburg.

Tate Parker will be one of four Pearl River Wildcats to don a Black & Gold uniform next season - and a very welcome addition to Southern Miss.

“Well I mean just his overall game,” said USM head coach Scott Berry. “He hit for an average this year, he hit for power, he has speed, he stole bases. I think he gives you a piece that we really haven’t had that’s so athletic in being able to do things.”

What the Golden Eagles are getting is the best player on the best team in NJCAA Division II - Parker recently named the NJCAA DII Player of the Year by ABCA/Rawlings.

The numbers jump off the page. A single-season program-record .450 batting average, 65 runs-batted-in, 11 doubles, 18 steals.

And for a guy under 6-foot, barely cracking 200 pounds, Parker has power - smashing a school-record 37 home runs in two years.

“I cut my strikeout numbers down a pretty good bit this year and raised my walk numbers,” Parker said. “When you get that ratio up, your batting average obviously goes up. I’ve spent a lot of time in the cage and rally studying. I like to model my swing after Alex Bregman, that’s my favorite MLB player. Just watching a small guy like that put up power numbers, seeing what he does, the way he stays in his back hip and really works through that.”

Besides his bat and his glove, Parker believes he can bring leadership to Southern Miss. He’s watched from afar what the Golden Eagles are building and can’t wait to join the cause.

“Southern Miss fans, those people are die hard,” Parker said. “Just like the Pearl River fans here, they packed that place out during that regional and seeing the atmosphere, there was like 5,000-plus people at all the games in the regional. Just watching the way that they compete, their reputation they’ve built over the last few years is unmatched compared to any of the other schools. The coaching staff and it being close to home. My family will be able to come watch every single game. The way that they develop and put out players is next level.”

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