BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/NEMCC Athletics) – Trace Lee is excited and ready to begin an incredible challenge that awaits him at Northeast Mississippi Community College during the upcoming academic year.
Lee became the newest member of the Tiger baseball team when he signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) with the 2014 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Tournament host.
However, Lee will be just as busy in the fall semester after agreeing to suit up and take the gridiron for the 2013 MACJC North Division runner-up Northeast football program.
“If he’s got dreams of playing football, he needs to chase that dream as long as he can. We encourage that,” said Tigers head baseball coach Kent Farris. “But in the spring, we’re going to have him on the mound for us.
“He has a fantastic family and brings so much more than just his ability on the mound. He’s a great leader and I’m sure the people of Columbus can testify to that.”
Lee played an integral part in helping three separate athletic teams at Columbus High School qualify for the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A playoffs. He anticipates more of the same success upon his arrival to the Booneville campus.
“I expect the best out of myself and the guys around me,” he said. “So I expect nothing less than a championship here in both sports.”
The 6-1, 185 pounder was a three-time Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) All-State selection on the diamond for former Northeast standout Jeffrey Cook.
Lee flashed his potential as a sophomore when he stole 10 bases in as many attempts. He also notched career bests of five complete games and a 1.16 earned run average (ERA) during the 2012 campaign.
The powerful right-handed pitcher acquired second-team All-State status for the second consecutive season as a junior. He went 4-4 with two saves and 63 total strikeouts.
Lee paced the Falcons in one of its best years in school history during his senior campaign of 2014. Columbus was victorious in 14 straight games to begin the season and climbed to No. 8 in the USA Today’s Super 25 national baseball rankings.
During the Falcons’ lengthy winning streak, Lee hit .636 with 10 runs scored and six RBIs. Columbus defeated their opponents by an average score of 10-2 in that four-week span.
After battling their way to the MHSAA Division 3, Class 6A runner-up position, the Falcons defeated Olive Branch High School and Clinton High School in their opening two rounds of the postseason.
Lee compiled a pair of masterful performances in the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs. He had a career-high 13 strikeouts in a 1-0 pitchers duel triumph against Olive Branch and then punched out eight batters to claim a 7-4 win at Clinton.
However, Lee’s outstanding year came to a conclusion with two close losses to Tupelo High School in the MHSAA Class 6A quarterfinal round.
Lee received recognition as a first-team All-State selection and was the Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association for Better Baseball (NEMCABB) Player of the Year following a season in which he tallied a 5-3 record in 11 appearances with a team-best 81 strikeouts and only 24 walks in 60.2 innings.
He wrapped up his phenomenal prep career with appearances in both the NEMCABB and Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star Games. Lee was named the Best Defensive Player for the East in the NEMCABB Class 3A-6A contest and also garnered the Ralph Bruce Memorial Award for his sportsmanship on and off the field of competition.
Lee amassed a 15-10 record in 35 appearances over four years at the varsity level. His ERA was an astonishing 1.65 while opponents hit only .216 and held a .292 on-base percentage versus the latest addition to the Northeast family.
He also earned the right to represent the Magnolia State in the 2013 Junior Sunbelt Classic, which is a 10-game tournament that features the best athletes from multiple states and Canada. Lee went 1-0 in five innings of work last summer while in McAlester, Okla.
Lee walked in the footsteps of his brother, former Mississippi State University quarterback Tyson Lee, and found success from behind center at Columbus for coach Tony Stanford.
The signal caller averaged over 100 yards per outing in three campaigns as a starter. He became known for his ability to avoid turnovers and made just three miscues over his final two years as a Falcon.
Lee had a breakout junior season in which he tossed for 1,524 total yards on 104 completions. He averaged 14.7 yards per throw and 138.5 yards each contest with eight touchdowns, zero interceptions and an 81.4 quarterback rating.
He threw for a career-best 240 yards and two scores in a loss to rival West Point High School during that year. Lee led Columbus to a 7-5 record in 2013 and to the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs.
“The opportunity to play both sports played a huge role and a lot of prayer went into this decision,” Lee said. “It’s going to take a lot more dedication and time management on my part. I understand the work ethic I’m going to have to have and that I’m going to have to be a leader on both teams. This isn’t high school anymore.”
Lee was named to the Commercial Dispatch’s All-Area football team following a senior campaign in which he accounted for 800 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns.
He excelled on the soccer pitch as well and engaged in a pivotal defensive post for the Falcons at the fullback position.