MUNCIE — The future came into focus for Drey Jameson on Saturday afternoon as he walked out to take the mound at Ball Diamond.
Named the opening day starter for the Indiana South All-Stars’ during their three-game set against the North All-Stars this weekend in Muncie, Jameson, a Ball State recruit, settled in quickly.
In a word, the Greenfield-Central graduate admits, he felt right at home.
“This is actually the very first time I’ve played on this field. I’ve never even thrown a baseball on this field until today,” Jameson remarked after tossing a perfect 1-2-3 inning on Saturday. “It’s pretty awesome. I like this field a lot. I’m glad I can call this place home.”
Jameson along with the South All-Stars made the newly-renovated turf field their own personal sandlot, winning the first two games 5-2, 5-3 on Saturday before dropping the finale on Sunday afternoon 11-6.
Last year, the South All-Stars swept the series 3-0 in Whiting. This weekend’s 2-1 margin marked the South’s sixth series victory since 2010 and 19th overall since 1975.
Jameson, who earned the Game 1 win, polished off his high school career befitting of his reputation. The 2017 Hancock County Player of the Year, once again, proved he was nearly unhittable.
Despite being limited to a 20-pitch cap, Jameson only need 14 to strikeout one and induce a pair of routine ground outs for a flawless bottom of the first.
“What a great competitor. He exudes confidence when he’s out on the mound. It’s the same thing he does when he’s playing a position and at-bat. He’s a special player, and we’re very fortunate to have him,” Ball State head baseball coach Rich Maloney remarked on his in-coming freshman. “We think very highly of him. He’s going to be an impact player for us.”
Jameson left a lasting imprint during his final prep event, finishing 0-for-2 at the plate while driving in one run for the South in Sunday’s wooden bat contest.
With the 2018 spring season — and upcoming BSU fall baseball campaign — in mind, the Ball State coaching staff requested Jameson only throw one inning in the series, though initially, that number was questionable.
Shutdown since the Greenfield-Central Cougars’ regional semifinal game against Cathedral at Decatur Central last month, Jameson has been working out with the Cardinals twice a week. His baseball activity has been minimal, however.
“I wanted to strikeout three, but I’m playing with the best of the best in the state, so I didn’t expect it,” Jameson said. “Honestly, I didn’t go out there throwing as hard as I can. I was taking it easy. I haven’t thrown a bullpen since the regional game. I haven’t even hit a live pitch since regional. (Friday) was the first time I took a swing with a bat. I’ve been golfing a lot.”
If anyone deserved a breather, it was Jameson, who was named Class 4A First-Team All-State by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and Prep Baseball Report’s Indiana Player of the Year.
As a senior at Greenfield-Central, Jameson compiled a 6-1 record through 10 starts and struck out 112 to finish with a 0.65 ERA. He threw a pair of no-hitters, including seven no-hit, shutout innings in the regional semifinal at Decatur Central against eventual 4A state champion Cathedral.
Jameson led the Cougars’ turnaround this spring as the team went from a 10-18 record in 2016 to 18-11 and sectional champions for the first time since 2013.
At a modest 6-foot and 165-pounds, Jameson wasn’t quite as imposing as some of his much taller all-star teammates, but the right-hander was more than capable, touching 94 mph several times this past postseason.
“His biggest gift, outside of his physical tools, is his competitive fire. It’s a separater because a lot of kids don’t have it,” Maloney said. “When you exude confidence, that’s a whole other level.
“We see him as a two-way player for us. He’ll have to earn his keep, but I think that kid will find a way to earn it. That’s how he’s wired.”
A center fielder for the Cougars, in addition to being Greenfield-Central head coach Robbie Miller’s go-to ace, Jameson is projected to compete for time in the outfield while bolstering Ball State’s pitching staff.
“He’ll be pitching for us. There’s no doubt about that,” Maloney said. “We’re not sure if he’ll play center or right. His bat is going to dictate that. He’s got to hit. I really believe he will. Some people question it, but I don’t.
“He could be a starter or could be a closer. I think he has the moxy to do both. We’ll play it out, but I know he’s going to be a really good player.”
His numbers back up Maloney’s projections.
Over Jameson’s final three high school seasons, he pitched 144.2 innings with a 1.79 ERA and 245 strikeouts. His record was 12-7 overall. He hit .377, including .404 as a senior, with 87 career runs scored, 18 home runs and 27 doubles.
Named a first-team All-Hoosier Heritage Conference selection, Jameson drove in 22 runs this year and crushed seven home runs. He stole 10 bases with nine doubles.
Now, with the weekend’s all-star festivities over, Jameson is ready to move on to the next stage of his journey.
“It’s starting to sink in. Going up to Ball State and working out, it’s starting to click,” he said. “Someone was telling me about summer ball and what’s coming up. I realized, I’m at the next level. I’m not in high school baseball anymore.”
Jameson will move into his dormitory on Aug. 17 with classes beginning on Aug. 21. Team training intensifies immediately after, then fall baseball starts in September.
“It’s awesome. Not everyone gets to do this kind of stuff (being an all-star). It’s a great experience, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to play in these games,” Jameson said. “It was really cool. Not that it’s just close to home, but this is my new home field. I’m excited about college baseball.”
WP: Drey Jameson LP: Drew Bradford
Notable: Jameson 1.0 IP, K
WP: Trent Johnson LP: Mike Madura
WP: Sean Ferguson LP: Drew Hensley
Notable: Drey Jameson 0-1, RBI