Senior spotlight: Coach White lauds high character of 2020 BHS baseball senior class
Brookhaven High head baseball coach Matt White can do nothing but rave about the quality of seniors that are graduating from his program in the 2020 class.
“Byrion Robinson and Gatson Walker are two guys that have been four-year starters,” said White. “They’re not just great athletes though, they’re stand-up young men that have done whatever their coaches have asked of them. They’re leaving behind some big shoes to fill.”
Those two have been part of the program since White took over in 2017. They’ve been on teams with records above .500 each of those years including this season when BHS was 5-4 before COVID-19 canceled play.
Fellow senior Demetric “Duke” Nelson joined the team this year and White says his speed on the base paths allowed him to contribute immediately despite a nearly 10-year layoff from organized baseball.
“Duke showed some great instincts for us as a courtesy runner,” said White. “He came out as a senior and said he hadn’t played baseball since he was eight or nine years old. I really enjoyed having him on the team this year.”
Any coach will tell you that having students you can count on in support roles for the team are crucial. Good managers are hard to come by, but White found a great one in senior Fitz Neal.
“Fitz is a guy that played as a freshman and he loves the game and wants a career in athletics,” said White. “He was more like an assistant coach than a manager, just a guy who loves the game of baseball. We make a trip to play in Monroe every year and Fitz is the first manager I’ve ever taken on that two-night stay — he was very valuable for our program.”
Equally important is a good statistician and that’s where senior Gracie Gray fit into the team.
“Gracie was a very good runner at our school and after having some health issues that kept her from competing as a senior she still wanted to be involved in athletics in some way,” said White. “She’s an outstanding person who has such a bright future ahead of her.
The son of Demetric Nelson and Shunte Newsom, Demetric plans to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College and pursue a career in diesel equipment technology. An athletic competitor who came to baseball late in his career, Nelson was also a defensive back for the Panther football team.
The son of Victoria Robinson, Byrion plans to attend Pearl River Community College on a baseball scholarship while pursuing a major in education. A standout southpaw pitcher who’ll likely hear his name in a future Major League Baseball draft, Robinson was a Daily Leader All-Area selection in baseball last season while also being picked as the All-Area Offensive MVP in football as a senior.
The son of Dustin and Stacy Walker, Gatson plans to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College and major in automation and control technology. A strong defensive catcher who also pitched after starting his career in the outfield, Walker was a Daily Leader All-Area selection as a junior.
The son of Dr. Lee and Gretchen Neal, Fitz will attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College and major in sports management with plans to then transfer to Mississippi State University. A team manager who the coaching staff counted on for a variety of tasks, Neal played for the Panthers as a freshman.
The daughter of Bruce and Dr. Leigh Cher Gray, Gracie plans to attend Samford University and major in biblical studies while participating in the pre-ministerial program. A first-year stat-keeper for the Panther baseball team, Gray was a standout track and cross-country athlete for BHS during her career.