By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Although he won’t graduate high school until 2021, Sam Dutton (pictured above) already knows where he will spend his collegiate baseball career.
The Westbrook Christian rising sophomore pitcher/outfielder committed to Louisiana State University on July 19.
“Getting a baseball scholarship has been a great goal of mine, and now that I’ve reached it, it’s been so amazing and exciting,” said Dutton. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve grown up watching LSU baseball, so it’s an awesome feeling. I truly am blessed.”
LSU was far from the only team vying for Dutton’s services, as he also received offers from Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. Dutton said that the relationships with the LSU staff, especially pitching coach Alan Dunn, was a major factor in the decision.
The 2018 Tigers went 40-27, finished runner-up in the SEC Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year. LSU has appeared in the College World Series 18 times and has won 17 SEC Tournament titles.
As the ace of the Warrior pitching staff this past season, Dutton went 5-2-1 with a 1.21 earned run average. In 46 innings, he struck out 72 while issuing only 11 walks and surrendering just 28 hits and eight earned runs. He pitched a no-hitter against Vincent in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs. At the plate, he batted .494 with 38 hits, 30 RBI, 24 runs scored and seven doubles.
Dutton’s production helped the Warriors post a 27-9 record, win the area championship and qualify for a berth in the Class 2A state quarterfinals, where Westbrook lost in extra innings in the deciding game 3 against top-ranked Mars Hill Bible. Dutton was the only freshman to make the ASWA All-State first team in any classification this past season. He was also named to the All-Messenger first team.
“I’m very excited for Samuel,” said Westbrook Christian head baseball coach Matt Kennedy. “LSU is a top-tier team, so it’s pretty special. Sam’s got a lot of integrity. He’s a mature kid who has got a good head on his shoulders. He also doesn’t mind pitching under pressure, which is what the teams that were recruiting him saw. He’s just got to keep improving.”
Dutton, who currently is playing travel baseball with the Louisiana Knights, was one of 54 baseball players across the county invited to participate in Phase 1 of the 15U Team USA National Team Trials beginning next at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. On the day of his commitment to LSU, Dutton pitched a complete game shutout victory in the playoffs of the 15u World Wood Bat Tournament in Atlanta, Ga.