Southeastern Louisiana athlete looking to prove himself

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2020

Anthony Hickman used his two years on the East Mississippi Community College baseball team to earn his dream spot on the baseball team at Mississippi State, only for it to be taken away two weeks before the start of the season.

Now the Southeastern Louisiana player is looking to find redemption with the Lions as a redshirt junior and prove to the Bulldogs they made a mistake in releasing him.

Hickman said he started playing makeshift baseball as a child using a broomstick to swat rocks he threw up into the air, or any bees who dared enter his vicinity.

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He then moved onto the field where he played youth baseball that transitioned into travel ball as he got older.

That’s when the sport took on another level of seriousness for Hickman.

“I started seeing different kids and better athletes. That’s when I started improving my skills by playing different competition at a higher level,” Hickman said. Hickman started his varsity career at Pearl River Central High School as a third baseman, but he always dreamed of playing shortstop.

When it was announced he’d been invited to take part in Mississippi’s All-Star games he said he decided to take a gamble.

Hickman was asked what position he played prior to the All-Star games, to which the junior replied “shortstop,” which then led to him shining at his new position during the competition.

For two weeks Hickman competed with the best of the best in the state and by the end of it had received 14 offers from college programs interested in signing him.

Hickman decided to start his collegiate career at EMCC, and while he performed well on the field, struggles in the classroom hurt the freshman.

“I had a come to Jesus moment at the beginning of my freshman year and coach said, ‘You need to get your grades right.’” Hickman said.

He was able to turn his grades around and his production on the field started garnering attention from four-year programs, including his favored destination, Mississippi State.

Two Mississippi State coaches came to an EMCC game to scout Hickman, but he said he didn’t play well and thought he’d lost the chance to join the Bulldogs.

A couple of weeks later, while visiting a cousin who was in the hospital due to a snake bite, Hickman got the call from the Bulldogs saying they still wanted him. Hickman joined the squad, but was unexpectedly released from the team just weeks before the start of the season, which sent him back to the drawing board when it came to finding his next opportunity.

Hickman said he’d had discussions with SLU before his commitment to Mississippi State and got back in contact with the program to see if they wanted him.

Talks progressed and eventually the Lions asked Hickman to come for a visit, which is when the final decision was made.

“I remember asking coach, ‘Do you play Mississippi State?’ and when he said yes I said this is where I want to come,” Hickman said.

Now a redshirt junior, Hickman was hitting .400 with a homerun and RBI for SLU prior to the cancellation of spring sports.

The season may be over but Hickman is making sure to stay in shape, even though there aren’t any games in the foreseeable future.

“I’m taking this time to relax from the game, but stay sharp. I’m trying to stay healthy and take the opportunity to get another year and sharpen my skills,” Hickman said.