Underwood, Parsons aim to repeat success from historic 2022 season in 2023
BOAZ, Ala. – The defending ACCC Baseball Champion Snead State Parsons enter the 2023 season ranked No. 9 in the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association’s Preseason NJCAA Division I Poll with hopes to find success similar to last season’s historic ride.
In 2022, the Parsons not only captured a state tournament title but also a earned a trip to the NJCAA College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Led by head coach Casey Underwood, the Parsons finished the season with an overall record of 42-14. The 42 wins were the most in school history.
“That was a special group, no doubt,” Underwood said.
Underwood, who has served as head coach since 2018, was awarded the 2022 ACCC Coach of the Year and the 2022 ALABCA Regional Coach of the Year for NJCAA Division I.
Looking to the 2023 campaign, Underwood’s expectations are simple and clear:
“Expectations are that sophomores come in and graduate,” Underwood said. “Our job here is to get kids in here, go to school, graduate and move them on to the next level. That’s who we are.
“Playing-wise, we’ll see as the season goes,” he continued “Our ultimate goal is to be in Oxford, Alabama, [site of the ACCC Championship Tournament] at the end of the year with a chance to play for a state title.”
Underwood refers to this year’s team as a talented one, but also young. The Parsons will be playing with several new faces, as only one full-time starter returns from the 2022 squad – right fielder Carter Frederick.
Frederick, a 6’4” sophomore from Chelsea, Alabama, appeared in 54 games last season. He finished the year with a .379 batting average, totaling 64 hits, 52 RBIs and 11 homeruns in 169 at-bats. He also made 11 appearances on the mound as a relief pitcher throughout the season, recording three saves and tallying 13 strikeouts while allowing just three hits and zero runs across 10 innings.
Frederick was recently ranked No. 56 in the Top 150 JUCO Prospects List by Prep Baseball Report, and he’s been touted as one of the top uncommitted JUCO prospects.
Another key returner from the 2022 team is Mason Cooper, a sophomore from Jefferson, Georgia. Cooper was the team’s designated hitter in many games, and he also spent lots of time playing catcher in the back half of doubleheaders.
In 42 games played, Cooper boasted a .356 batting average in 101 at-bats. He recorded 36 hits, 42 RBIs and 6 homeruns.
Underwood said Frederick and Cooper were two of several sophomores that the team would be relying on to defend their ACCC Championship.
“We’re going to lean on our sophomores that were here last year to lead the way,” Underwood said. “We’re going to continue to be who we are: a gritty bunch that gets after and just grinds. We’re going to lean on the guys who have been there and hopefully their leadership takes us back to where we want to be.
“You get to Oxford, you always have a chance,” he said. “A tournament is a tournament; anything can happen. We saw that last year. So, the biggest goal is get to Oxford.”
The Parsons’ 2023 pitching staff is loaded with a group of talented sophomores. Underwood said four had already inked scholarships to play for NCAA Division I schools next year.
Likely to lead the pitching staff is Jeb Bartle, a 6’1” right-hander from Cullman, Alabama. In 2022, Bartle appeared in 13 games, starting 11 games. He finished the season 7-1 with two complete games. Over 51.2 innings pitched he posted a 3.66 ERA, giving up 59 hits, 36 runs and 12 walks. He tallied 43 strikeouts. He has signed to play at Tennessee-Martin in 2024.
Evan Steckmesser, a 6’3” left-hander from Madison, Alabama, is headed to play for Samford University next season. In 2022, Steckmesser appeared in 18 games, starting two games. He finished 2-0 with two saves on the year. Over 28.1 innings pitched, Steckmesser had a 6.35 ERA. He recorded 38 strikeouts while giving up 33 hits and 17 walks.
Cody Williams is a 6’1” right hander from Rockmart, Georgia. He appeared in 13 games in 2022, finishing 1-0 with a save. Williams garnered 18 strikeouts and posted an ERA of 1.35 over 20 innings pitched. He gave up 12 hits, six runs and seven walks.
Williams has signed to play next season at Florida A&M University.
William Tarpley, a 6’3” left-hander from Pinson, Alabama, appeared in 14 games in 2022. With one start under his belt, Tarpley ended the year 3-1. He pitched 29 innings, tallying 24 strikeouts and posting a 5.28 ERA. He gave up 32 hits, 29 runs and 18 walks. He signed to play for University of Alabama-Huntsville next season.
Behind the sophomores, Underwood said there were a handful freshmen that have stood out over the course of the fall and were projecting to make a sizable impact this spring, including Bryce Hawkins, Trey Higgins, Alex Johnson and Jarett Mason.
Hawkins hails from Cumming, Georgia. Standing at 6’0”, he is a right-handed pitcher who is expected to get plenty of time in the pitching rotation. Underwood said he has already signed on to play at Mercer University next season.
Higgins is a 6’4” outfielder from Oxford, Alabama, who transferred from Mississippi State University after redshirting in 2022. Coming out of high school, Higgins was the No. 14-ranked prospect in Alabama and No. 1 outfielder in the state per Perfect Game. Higgins hit .407 as a senior with 20 doubles, six triples and seven home runs. He drove in 45 runs and successfully stole 29 bases. He is listed as a switch hitter.
Higgins is currently ranked No. 104 in Prep Baseball Report’s Top 150 JUCO Prospects List. Like Frederick, Higgins is also considered one of the top uncommitted JUCO prospects.
Johnson and Mason are familiar names to Marshall County residents. Johnson, a 6’3” product of Albertville High School, will spend time this year playing catcher and infield. Mason is right-handed pitcher listed a 6’0” that graduated from DAR High School.
Opening Day for the Parsons is scheduled for Feb. 9 in Scooba, Mississippi, where they will face off against East Mississippi Community College for a doubleheader. The first game is slated to begin at 2 p.m. Snead State will return to Boaz for its home opener at Emmett Plunkett Field on Feb. 11 for another doubleheader against East Mississippi, the first game also starting at 2 p.m.
A full schedule for the Parson’s 2023 season can be found at sneadathletics.com.