Even amid pandemic, Picayune athlete gets signed

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 17, 2020

Chad Dudenhefer has been a part of the Picayune Maroon Tide baseball program since he was in 7th grade and Head Coach Evan Nichelson said he has continuously led by example during his career.

Dudenhefer’s work on the field didn’t go unnoticed. On April 11 he announced he would be continuing his athletic career with the Mississippi Delta Community College baseball team.

Dudenhefer said he hadn’t received any offers during the season until a matchup against Stone County caught the eye of the Trojans.

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“Their coach came and watched me and he contacted me after that, then offered (a scholarship to) me a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t really expecting it, but then it happened,” Dudenhefer said.

Coach Nichelson said the new Trojan signee would transition well to college baseball.

Work ethic and a selfless mentality have become hallmarks of Dudenhefer’s game and Nichelson said those attributes will benefit him greatly at the next level.

“He’s about winning. He could go 0-4 with 4 strikeouts, but if we won he was good. He’s always been that way, always unselfish,” Nichelson said.

Dudenhefer was originally enrolled at Pearl River Community College on an academic scholarship, but the opportunity to keep playing baseball at the college level was too good to pass up.

He’ll be joining teammates Chad Stockstill and Luke Smith at MDCC, but Nichelson said no matter what team Dudenhefer plays for, he will have a positive impact.

“He plays solid defense, gives great at-bats and will be a great locker room guy. He’s going to mingle and get along well with everybody,” Nichelson said.

Having been in the program for so long Dudenhefer has seen just about everything you can see out on the field.

He has years of experience and will take that knowledge with him to MDCC.

However, before the season ended Dudenhefer made a point to educate some of the younger players on the finer details of baseball.

“I’ve watched him grow mentally and physically this past year and he’s teaching our young guys the things he was taught,” Nichelson said.

Dudenhefer was also a football player and was a part of the Maroon Tide team that competed for a 5A state title this past season.

Nichelson said the time spent in pads helped translate to the diamond in a variety of ways, with the biggest being Dudenhefer’s mentality.

“The football program has been successful for a long time and they don’t like to lose. He brings a winning mindset and those things are huge as far as the mentality (of the team),” Nichelson said.

Dudenhefer may know where he’ll be starting his collegiate career, but there are athletes across the nation who had been hoping to do the same before the coronavirus pandemic.

Seasons have ended and players who aren’t in Dudenhefer’s position are left to wonder if they’ll have a shot of playing at the next level.

“Well you really can’t get an offer if you’re not playing. It’s hard to get any looks if they didn’t already have some,” Dudenhefer said.

Dudenhefer had a .400 batting average with three RBIs and six stolen bases during this year’s shortened season for the Maroon Tide.