Picayune’s Bales ends his baseball career at So. Miss.

SOLID SLUGGER: Picayune’s Jared Bales has decided to forego his senior season at the University of Southern Mississippi due to a back injury.  Photo courtesy of USM SID

SOLID SLUGGER: Picayune’s Jared Bales has decided to forego his senior season at the University of Southern Mississippi due to a back injury.
Photo courtesy of USM SID

HATTIESBURG — The stellar baseball career of Picayune Jared Bales has come to a sudden halt.

Bales, a senior catcher/designated hitter at the University of Southern Mississippi, announced this week that he was giving up the game due to a series of injuries to his back.

“This was a tough decision for Jared, but he has been fighting back injuries for the last two seasons and his No. 1 priority is his health,” said fifth-year Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. “His leadership and experience will be missed on the field for us this spring.”

Bales, who appeared in 70 games over three seasons, earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors in 2011 after hitting .291 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 32 starts at catcher that year.

Bales appeared in only eight games early the 2012 campaign due to his injuries and returned to limited playing time last season after missing a year of action. Bales homered in his first game back against Central Arkansas last season (March 16).

“I injured it at the start of my sophomore season lifting weights,” Bales, an all-state performer at Picayune High, said. “I played through it at times, but I’ve never gotten over it. Sometimes it’s worse than others, but I can’t twist and you can’t play baseball if you can’t twist.

“It’s one of those things that’s just meant to be I guess. I prayed about it and talked with my family and coaches. I just decided this was what I needed to do.”

Bales in one of only two Maroon Tide players selected to the prestigious Dandy Dozen squad. A three-time all-district selection in high school, Bales hit .519 with 14 doubles and seven home runs as a senior.

He also recorded a 1.205 slugging percentage as a senior.

As a junior, he hit .439 with 14 doubles.

Bales was picked to play in the Mississippi Coast All-Star Game and North/South All-Star Game.

“I feel like I’ve had a good career, and I know I will miss playing the game but God has another plan for me,” Bales added. “The pain just got to be too much to handle. Physically and mentally, the pain began to outweigh the motivation to keep playing.”

The Golden Eagles open the 2014 season, Friday when they take on Stony Brook at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

“I don’t have any regrets, I enjoyed playing the game,” Bales concluded. “God has blessed me so far. I am ready for the next chapter of my life.”

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