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Baseball: Chatting the game – Potts leads Eagles with bat, voice

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017
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Vocal Talent

VOCAL TALENT – Decatur shortstop Derek Potts leads the chatter in the dugout and also holds the top batting average on the team as the Eagles enter the playoffs Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Winning tight games and making late rallies became a specialty for the Decatur Eagles in working their way to the playoffs.

As the spirited late-game charges started, the voice of senior Derek Potts stood out in the chatter from the dugout.

“I like to call the baseball diamond my home,” Potts said. “I love being out here and playing this game. I end up leading the guys and I tend be more rowdy.”

That chatter also carries onto the field from his shortstop position.

“He enjoys the talk of the game. He’s our verbal leader. He’s always positive,” said Decatur coach Brian Tickell. “If someone makes an error, he’s telling them it’ll be OK and move on.”

This season, it’s not just been the senior’s words that have carried weight for the Eagles. The shortstop leads the team in hitting heading into the postseason and playing near flawless defense.

He’s batting .405 with a .516 on-base percentage with 12 RBIs and has scored 21 runs.

Potts’ batting average is nearly 100 points better than last year.

“Last year, I didn’t hit the ball well. I knew we lost a couple of people in the middle of the order that we had to replace,” Potts said. “In the offseason, I hit every day. Just being in the cage every day has helped.”

Tickell points out that Potts has also increased his strength, helping him at the plate.

“He had a good summer and put in a lot of time swinging the bat,” Tickell said. “A big factor is he’s a lot stronger.”

At shortstop, he’s played at an elite level, teaming with freshman Eddie Fernandez to form a strong left side of the infield.

“He can play anywhere on the field,” Tickell said. “We’re glad to have him at shortstop.”

For Potts, his defense is just as important as what he does at the plate.

He’s also served as the team’s closer the past two years. This year, his best games on the mound have come against No. 2 Argyle. In two appearances against Argyle covering four innings, he’s allowed one unearned run on four hits.

“He has command of his pitches. He’s a fastball, changeup and cutter guy,” Tickell said. “He’s just a competitor.”

Potts previously committed to play at Northwest Oklahoma but has reopened his recruitment. He’s hoping to get an opportunity in Texas at a junior college.

“I’ve played since I was 4. I love the game,” Potts said. “Baseball has always been a dream. I’d love to play the infield at JUCO or Division II school.”

But for now, he’s keeping the chatter focused on helping the Eagles through the playoffs.

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