Jackson State can swing the bats: .308 team batting average. The Tigers have some quality arms: Nik Galatas is 7-2, Anthony Beccera 6-1 and Steven Davila 4-0 with five saves. But maybe the most impressive aspect of the Tigers’ game is their wheels. JSU, 25-8 and 19-0 in the SWAC after dismantling Alabama A&M 13-0 on Friday, leads the nation in stolen bases and has five players with double-figure totals in steals. They got four bags on Friday, running their total to 108, far and away the best in NCAA Division I. They don’t hit a lot of homers, just 20 on the year. But their old-school, kicking-up-dust style produces. They average 9.2 runs per game. Equon Smith leads the club with 20 steals in 21 attempts. Jatavious Melton, from Natchez, has 18; Madison’s Chandler Dillard 15; Columbia’s C.J. Newsome 14; and Raymond’s Chevy Dorris 12. Wesley Reyes is 8-of-9. The Tigers will enter the SWAC Tournament, set for May 19-23 at Madison, Ala., as the clear favorite for the title. And they’ll have to win the event to get an NCAA regional bid. It’d be a shame if they don’t; their speed and aggressiveness on the bases could cause problems for whatever regional heavyweights they might encounter.
Stealing bases is becoming a lost art in the major leagues, but there is a trio of Mississippians doing their best to keep the steal relevant. Jarrod Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star from McComb, leads the National League in stolen bases with 12. Tim Anderson, an East Central CC alum, is tied for third in the American League with 13, and Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton is hot on his heels with 11, seventh in the AL. Former Mississippi Braves star Mallex Smith also has 13 bags in the AL. Hamilton, in his seventh MLB campaign and first with Kansas City, is the all-time leader among Mississippians with 288 bags. He averaged 58 a year from 2014-17 but dropped to 34 in 2018. Dyson, in his 10th season and second in Arizona, is second on Mississippi list with 232, having passed Gulfport native Gee Walker (223) earlier this year. Dyson’s career-best is 36 bags in 2014. Anderson, in his fourth year with the Chicago White Sox, has 64 career steals, with a season-high of 26 in 2018. P.S. The long ball seemingly never has been more popular or prevalent, and ex-DeSoto Central standout Austin Riley is making historic contributions. The Atlanta rookie hit his first grand slam on Wednesday and now has seven home runs through 14 career games, second-most in MLB history in such a span. (Colorado’s Trevor Story belted eight in his first 14 games in 2016.) … Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland (back) and Ole Miss alum Jacob Waguespack (shoulder) landed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, Waguespack two days after making his MLB debut for Toronto. The current all-Mississippi IL also includes Zack Cozart, Corey Dickerson, Kendall Graveman, Mike Mayers, Chris Stratton and Bobby Wahl.