By Chris McCarthy
2013 Etowah High graduate Josh Bobo just completed a solid four-year-career with the Jacksonville State baseball team.
Bobo, who graduated last month with a degree in English, is experiencing mixed emotions about the end of his collegiate athletic career.
“It’s kind of weird waking up and not having a set plan with practice or a game that day,” he said. “I’m still getting used to it.”
In 52 games this past season, Bobo finished with a .251 batting average with 44 hits, 27 runs, 22 RBI and six doubles while helping the Gamecocks go 30-26 overall and 17-13 in conference play. JSU lost to Austin Peay in the elimination round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in May. He finished with 16 career home runs and 137 career hits.
Bobo started at third base the past two seasons while also playing several games at second base in 2017. As a junior, he posted a .330 batting average with 10 home runs, 15 doubles. He was twice named OVC Player of the Week.
Bobo pointed to the speed of the game as the major difference from Class 5A high school ball to the Division I competition at JSU.
“I think people really underestimate how much of a difference the game is than in high school. It took me two full years to really adjust to it. You’re talking about a seven or 10 mile an hour jump from the pitchers, and ball gets hit harder and you’ve got to run a lot faster. Plus, everybody you play against was a star on his high school team, so you’re going up against an all-star team every time you take the field.”
As a senior at Etowah, Bobo was named to the ASWA All-State second team after batting .400 with two home runs and 39 RBI. He finished his Blue Devil career with a .379 batting average with four home runs and 85 RBI. He participated in the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game prior to his junior season.
Bobo played for a coaching legend in both high school and college.
Larry Foster has been the EHS head baseball coach 23 years all together. From 1981 to 2004, Foster guided the Blue Devils to state championships in 1985, 1987 and 1996. He returned to the dugout in 2013 and currently has a 647-271 record. Foster was inducted into the Jacksonville State Hall of Fame in 1985, Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this past January.
Josh Bobo – 2B
“Josh left here with talent that wasn’t exactly Jacksonville [State] level talent, but he worked hard and got himself to where he could play and did a great job, especially the last two years,” said Foster. “Josh is a good as a ball player as they’ve had over there, and that was due to hard work on his part. He just made himself into a great ball player.”
Foster was no slouch himself playing for Rudy Abbott at Jacksonville State. He was selected as an NAIA All-America player in 1971 and earned All-America honors from the NCAA in 1973. Foster played professional baseball in the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals organizations from 1973-78.
Bobo joined Foster in the JSU record books as the only Gamecocks to hit three home runs in a game.
“Josh got in there as a academic student, got the opportunity to play and made the most of it,” said Foster. “It just took him a couple of years to figure out what you have to do at that level to succeed. Josh is an over-achiever who works hard, and Coach [Jim] Case does a good job with those types of guys.
“Josh also has a the mental makeup to be a great coach. He’s got one of those personalities where when he opens his mouth, kids listen. That’s a rare thing to find sometimes.”
Over the past 13 years under Case, the Gamecocks compiled a 485-402 record while winning six Ohio Valley Conference Championships.
“Coach Foster was tough and let you know how it was going to be, but once you get to college, you form more of a love/hate relationship where [the coaches] will really chew you out,” said Bobo. “Coach Case played a big parting changing my mentality from a high schooler to more of a man. He made you grow up really fast.”
Although his schedule was a busy one the past four years during the baseball season, Bobo managed to keep tabs on his alma mater in Attalla. His brother Josh was the catcher for the Blue Devils this past season and was named to the Class 5A All-State second team last month.
“I don’t know if it’s like this at every school, but pretty much all the guys that I played with and a lot of the guys that played at Etowah before me keep tabs on how the team is doing,” said Bobo. “There’s a lot of people that pull for them, even the guys that played for Coach Foster back in the 80s and 90s.”