• 66°

MGCCC’s Harris, Keith sign with D-I programs

PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast baseball coach Wes Thigpen is sending two more of his players to Division I programs. Both are pitchers, with Antoine Harris signing with the University of Louisiana and Evan Keith with Nicholls State.

Harris, a 6-foot-4 right-handed freshman from Chalmette, La., made his collegiate debut memorable by throwing the first five innings of a combined no-hitter in a 5-0 win over Nunez. He finished the abbreviated 2020 season with a 1-1 record and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings.

“The coaches here helped me figure out what I need to do and not just throw,” Harris said. “I pitch now and know how to get guys out. I learned how to compete a lot better.”

Harris was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 34th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.

“Antione is a kid who came to us after he was drafted out of high school,” Thigpen said. “He was a highly touted recruit, and came here to move on to bigger things. He throws strikes and has a special fastball.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns are a Sun Belt power with three conference titles since 2014 and 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.

“Their program is really good,” Harris said. “I think they’ll help me grown and put some weight on me. They’ll get me where I need to be for the draft in a year.”

Keith, a right-handed sophomore from Vancleave, struck out all five batters he faced to close out that combined no-hitter against Nunez to earn a save. He finished 2020 with an 0-1 record and two saves, with seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He also played as an infielder.

“It’s helped me a lot coming in as a dual (player), and this year really focusing on pitching,” he said. “It really helped me a lot. They’ve made me a better player and person. They’ve really helped me get my game to where it is now.”

The decision to concentrate on pitching has paid off for Keith.

“Evan’s a kid who really just picked up pitching again. Last year, he worked out of the bullpen, and this year he’s come in as a pitcher only and really excelled. The way he competes on the mound is what really sets him apart.”

Nicholls State, which plays in the Southland Conference, finished 2020 with a 10-8 record, including a 4-2 win over No. 11 LSU. Seth Thibodeaux is heading into his 11th season.

“When I went on my visit, it just felt like home.,” Keith said. “I’ve always liked it there growing up and playing there a little bit. It’s close to home, and I like the coaching staff. It felt like the right fit.”

For more information on MGCCC’s 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.