String of strong performances leads to PBR Player of the Week honors for Oxford’s Reid Kent

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

It didn’t take long for Reid Kent to settle in.

The junior shortstop for Oxford, who missed most of the last two seasons due to injury, put together a series of exceptional performances in the first week of the high school baseball season including a four-RBI performance against Kirk Academy in the season opener and a 5-for-5 performance against Baker (Ala.) this past weekend.

He entered Monday night’s contest against North Pontotoc with a .916 batting average and 12 RBIs, only to continue beating the cover off the ball with three more RBIs in a two-hit performance against the Vikings.

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“Reid’s one of those guys — he’s battled back from injury two years in a row and it’s just good to see him out here because he’s a heck of a player,” said Oxford head coach Cade Hoggard.

The string of strong outings garnered statewide recognition as he was named Prep Baseball Report Mississippi’s Mizuno Player of the Week.

The slick-fielding shortstop was in high spirits following his big opening-day performance, referring to his three-hit night as a confidence-booster.

“It means a lot [to have that kind of performance,” Kent said. “It was a big confidence-booster tonight against a good team, good pitchers. You gotta love having a good night [your] first game back, getting the jitters out of the way and moving on from there.”

Kent’s flaming bat has made it difficult for opponents to attack the top of the Chargers’ lineup, which boasts one of the top 1-2 punches in the state in Kent and leadoff hitter Campbell Smithwick.

Smithwick, one of the top catchers in the class of 2023, is also off to a hot start this season with a .800 batting average and two home runs through four games.

With Smithwick reaching base on over 80% of his at-bats, pitchers have been hesitant to dance around the edges of the strike zone against Kent, instead opting to throw plenty of fastballs early in the count to try and limit baserunners.

“I got a good guy in front of me who’s gonna get a lot of off-speed pitches so I sit first-pitch fastball for sure,” Kent said.

The star duo has combined for more than half of the Chargers’ offensive production so far this season, racking up 21 hits, 21 RBIs, eight doubles and three home runs between them.

That production has translated to wins early in the season, as Oxford sits at 4-0 entering the weekend with a chance to move to 5-0 for the first time since 2017.

The Chargers hit the road for a pair of games against Madison-Ridgeland Academy and North Pontotoc this weekend before returning home for the Crosstown Classic series against Lafayette next week.

The Commodores will host Oxford on Tuesday and Saturday, while the Chargers will host Friday’s contest. All games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.