Photo: Westbrook Christian senior Samuel Dutton signed a baseball scholarship with LSU on December 10 in Rainbow City. Pictured, sitting, from left: Dutton’s mom Samantha, Dutton, Dutton’s dad Gary. Standing, from left: Dutton’s brother Andrew, Westbrook head baseball coach Matt Kennedy. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Samuel Dutton made it official on December 10.
After committing to Louisiana State University almost two and half years ago, the Westbrook Christian senior signed a baseball scholarship with the Tigers at the WCS gym in Rainbow City.
“I want to say thank you to my parents and my coaches and all the teammates I’ve had over the years for being so supportive and helping to motivate me to get to this point,” said Dutton. “Just having the mindset of working hard and sticking to the program. It takes time, but in the end, everything works out.”
Dutton’s achievement was the culmination of two-plus years of dominance on the high school pitching mound. In the 15 innings he pitched in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down the season, Dutton threw complete-game shutouts over Etowah and Russellville while allowing no runs and five hits with 28 strikeouts.
In 63 innings as a junior in 2019, Dutton struck out 110 while finishing with an 8-3 record and an 0.88 earned run average while holding opposing batters to a collective .121 average. At the plate, he batted .383 with 41 hits, 38 runs, 21 RBI, six doubles, two triples and two home runs. Dutton’s outstanding numbers played a big part in the Warriors’ 23-14 record, area championship, three playoff series victories and berth in the state championship series for the first time since 2013.
As a freshman, Dutton went 5-2-1 with a 1.21 earned run average in 46 innings. He struck out 72 batters 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, Dutton batted .494 with 38 hits, 30 RBI, 24 runs scored and seven doubles. The 2018 Warriors went 27-9 and made it to the Class 2A state quarterfinals, where Westbrook lost in extra innings in the deciding third game against top-ranked Mars Hill Bible.
Dutton was named to the AHSAA All-State baseball first team all three of his varsity seasons while being named The All-Messenger baseball team’s Player of the Year in 2019 and was a first team selection in 2018. He also was named to the 2020 AHSAA North-South All-Star Baseball roster. The all-star game, which normally is held each year in mid-July in Montgomery, was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
“With Samuel, a lot of people see the potential, but what they don’t see is the work he puts in behind the scenes,” said Westbrook athletic director and head baseball coach Matt Kennedy. “I’ve never been around guys like Samuel and his brother Andrew who were willing to stay after practice and do the things that were necessary to get them to the next level.”
Dutton, who also received offers from Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State, said that the relationships with the LSU coaches and their families was the major factor in the decision to sign with the Tigers.
“There were other reasons why I wanted to go there, but that was the thing that stood out.”
The Tigers went 12-5 in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down the season. In 2019, LSU went 40-26. LSU has appeared in the NCAA College World Series 18 times and has won 17 SEC Tournament titles.
“I could tell there was something different about Samuel when he arrived here as an eighth grader,” said Kennedy. “God blessed Samuel with a special ability and a great right arm, but if you have those things and don’t put in the work, you won’t excel. Talent’s not enough. Along with his brother (Andrew), Samuel has worked harder than any other kid who’s come through here. We’ll miss Samuel’s ability but what I’ll miss the most is seeing him out there during the summer and fall doing and the things that made him a better player and made our team better.”
Even in at a top-flight program such as LSU and competing in the Southeastern Conference, Kennedy sees Dutton making a name for himself early on for the Tigers.
“I can see Samuel contributing as a freshman. His stuff is good enough that he can immediately make an impact.”