BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/NEMCC Athletics) – Two local brothers have committed to become members of the tightly knit Northeast Mississippi Community College baseball family.
Twins Josh and Luke Walden are the latest additions to the Tigers’ 2014-15 recruiting class. The highly decorated duo will join the defending Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division champions during the upcoming fall semester.
“Luke and Josh are two real fine baseball players,” said Northeast head coach Kent Farris. “They’re strong and athletic kids that we’re looking forward to having as a part of our program.”
The pair of standouts have played a significant role for Thrasher High School and coach Richie Taylor since the eighth grade when they first made the varsity roster.
In his inaugural two campaigns as a Rebel, Luke Walden held a .327 batting average with 23 RBIs and 44 runs scored. He emerged during his freshman campaign with eight doubles and a .557 on-base percentage.
Likewise, Josh Walden excelled at the plate early in his career with a combined .400 batting average in the same two-year span. He tallied an above-.500 on-base percentage both as a freshman and eighth grader with 27 RBIs.
Their magnificent numbers and aggressive play on the diamond helped the counterparts receive one of their greatest honors. Both Walden’s were selected to represent Coast to Coast Baseball out of Marietta, Ohio, when its national squad played in Puerto Rico during the summer of 2011.
They were two of approximately 2,000 athletes that tried out for one of Coast to Coast’s teams. The Walden’s competed against top amateur competition in the greater San Juan area.
Both young men were selected to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A All-State team at the conclusion of their junior seasons after helping Thrasher qualify for the second round of the playoffs.
Luke Walden was voted by the state’s coaches to the first-team as a utility player while Josh Walden obtained second-team recognition at pitcher.
The Walden combo is already off to a blazing start to their senior years with the Rebels. Josh Walden is currently hitting an outstanding .686 with 24 hits in 35 at bats.
He also carries an extraordinary .780 on-base percentage with 11 walks and four hit by pitches. Josh Walden has three home runs, six doubles and 13 RBIs, all team-bests in those categories, through 13 games.
The right-hander is also a threat on the mound for Thrasher. He holds a 4-1 record in five appearances during the 2014 season with 35 strikeouts and a 1.53 earned run average (ERA) in 23 innings.
“I grew up here and I’ve played with a bunch of the guys at Northeast,” said Josh Walden. “I like the campus and all the coaches. We’ve always had it on our mind to come here and I’m just ready to go.”
Luke Walden is not far behind his brother in each statistical category. His .400 batting average and .529 on-base percentage are each among the five best for the Rebels so far this campaign.
When not pitching, Luke Walden possesses a great arm behind the dish. Only two opposing runners have attempted to steal off of the catcher this entire season with one of them being caught by Walden.
Luke Walden holds a .983 fielding percentage with 52 putouts and has pitched a team-high 25.1 innings as well. Adversaries are hitting just .235 versus the righty so far in 2014.
“It’s close to home, they have good coaches and a good facility,” Luke Walden said. “They had a good baseball season last year and I’m looking forward to joining the program.”
Josh and Luke Walden were three-sport athletes at Thrasher and played key roles for the football and basketball teams as well.
Josh Walden accounted for 195 tackles during his gridiron career and averaged 11.5 per contest. He added six tackles for loss and two sacks as a senior for the Rebels.
Luke Walden averaged double figures on the court at Thrasher with 11.7 points per outing. He also notched 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals each matchup.