Pitts back in GJ with Wildcats

For the past week or so, his teammates have kept asking Derrick Pitts what the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series was like.

The Western Nevada College outfielder doesn’t have to answer anymore. His teammates are experiencing it for themselves.

“The team asks me every day what the atmosphere is like,” Pitts said. “All I can tell them is it’s similar to being a pro ballplayer. You’re treated like a pro baseball player. It’s unreal.”

The sophomore from Salt Lake City played in the 2011 JUCO World Series, but not with the Wildcats. Pitts played with Chipola (Fla.) College and made the all-tournament team. He was a key player in the Indians’ 19-13 victory over Grayson County (Texas) College in each team’s opener, going 6 for 6 with three doubles and nine RBI.

Pitts returned to Chipola in the fall, but he had some off-field problems and transferred closer to home four months ago.

“It was a Sunday evening when I got a call from his former high school coach saying he was looking for a program at Christmas,” Western Nevada coach D.J. Whittemore said. “At the time we said, ‘We’re full, thanks.’

“The next day we found out the second center fielder on our team went down with a hamate bone break, so we called him back. Actually, his first choice was to go to Central (Arizona). He went there on a visit. We thought we lost him. The next night he said he wanted to come visit and decided to stay.”

Pitts originally signed with Brigham Young University out of high school, but backed out to sign with College of Southern Nevada. When coach Tim Chambers resigned to take over the UNLV program, Chambers directed Pitts to Chipola and coach Jeff Johnson.

“I loved it down there,” Pitts said. “Coach Johnson is a great coach, one of the better ones I’ve ever had. Unfortunately some things happened, so I came here.”

Pitts said it was tough to leave Chipola, but he realized he needed a change of scenery to avoid more trouble.

Now, he couldn’t be happier how things worked out.

“I came here (to Western Nevada), and it’s been awesome,” Pitts said. “It’s been the best move I’ve ever made.

“There’s a lot more talent on this team than we had at Chipola. One of the reasons we went so far was the chemistry on the team. We were a family at Chipola. This team has a lot of talent. We may not be as close, but the talent we have is unreal.”

Pitts plays left field, hits third in the lineup and has started six games on the mound. He entered the tournament with .286 batting average. Pitts has 55 hits, 14 doubles, nine home runs and 51 RBI. On the mound, he is 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA in 13 appearances. He has 44 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

Pitts hasn’t committed anywhere next year, but shouldn’t have a problem finding a place to play.

He is ranked 80th in the top 100 junior college draft prospects by Perfect Game USA. If he doesn’t get drafted and sign, he’s considering Mount Olive (N.C.) College, an NCAA Division II program that won a national title a few years ago.

Before he makes his decision, Pitts hopes to make some more memories in the JUCO World Series.


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