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The Wallace State baseball program, which has former players succeeding in the major leagues, continues to be a force in the state and on the national level under NJCAA Hall of Fame head coach Randy Putman. Since his arrival to Hanceville in 1990, Putman has recorded 27 winning seasons at Wallace State, advancing to the postseason in 27 of 29 years.
In 2018, Wallace State baseball constructed another spectacular season, finishing with a 48-10 record and as the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) runner-up. The Lions also won the ACCC North Division championship and were ranked among the top ten teams in the nation throughout the spring, winning 19 of their first 20 conference games.
After reaching the 1,000-win plateau in 2017, Putman has compiled a 1,067-473 record (.690 winning percentage) at Wallace State after 29 seasons, serving as the steady hand behind Wallace State’s baseball success for nearly three decades. Putman has guided his teams to seven Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) state championships, six Southeastern Regional Championships and six World Series appearances on the NJCAA Division I level.
Wallace State baseball has many impressive individual accomplishments during the 2018 season, placing four players on the All-ACCC/Region 22 first team and five on the All-ACCC North Division first team.
Sophomore pitcher Blake Rivera was among the standouts. The sophomore from Smiths Station was named a 2nd-team NJCAA All-American in addition to being the ACCC Pitcher of the Year and the ACCC North Division Player of the Year. On June 5, Rivera was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 4th round of the MLB First Year Player Draft, becoming the second-highest draft pick in Wallace State baseball history next to Craig Kimbrel (3rd round, 2008). Rivera signed with the Giants after compiling a 10-0 record with 1.75 ERA in 67 innings. He struck out 98 batters, averaging an impressive 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings. As a freshman in 2017, Rivera had a 7-1 record with a 1.94 ERA, recording 72 strikeouts in 55 2/3 frames.
Sophomore Devin Brown hit .385 with a team-high 18 doubles and 27 RBIs en route to All-Conference recognition. Sophomore Heath Haskins made the All-ACCC North Division team after hitting .426 with 22 RBIs.
Haskins, Brown and Dalton Sinquefield were ACCC All-Tournament selections and Brown, Sinquefield and Kolby Robinson were each Gold Glove honorees.
Additionally, Robinson Palmer Ford, Austin Triplett, Dalton Cobb, Kevin Bryant and Noah Fondren all made significant contributions at the plate in 2018.
On the mound, freshman Garrett Brown went 8-2 with a 3.07 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings. Taylor Hayes finished 4-1 with one save and a 2.70 ERA in 15 appearances. Sophomore Heath Olive served as the team’s closer, registering 10 saves and pitching to a 2.13 ERA. The pitching staff had a collective ERA of 3.17 in 2018 and threw 11 shutouts as a unit.
Wallace State sophomores in 2018 were Rivera, Sinquefield, Bryant, Haskins, Robinson, Triplett, Ford, Olive, Cobb, Tanner Rusk, Wallace Henry, Jackson Tavel, Conner Daniel, Zack Moon and Jordan Simpson. The group won 94 games in two seasons, finishing at the top of the ACCC North for two seasons.
Wallace State baseball was named a NJCAA honorable mention All-Academic team in 2018, registering a 3.09 GPA with Garrett Brown and Ford each finishing with a 4.0 GPA.
Putman, originally from Birmingham, has coached 34 Wallace State players who have continued their careers professionally, including San Francisco Giants left-hander Derek Holland, Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, a five-time All-Star and the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year, infielder Jake Elmore of the Chicago White Sox organization, former MLB pitcher Graham Godfrey, recently of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and Zelous Wheeler, who is now playing in professionally in Japan, but, in 2014, became the fifth former Wallace State player in six seasons to make his MLB debut. Putman also coached former major league outfielder Terry Jones, who played with the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies.
Putman’s storied career has resulted in him being named the ACCC Baseball Coach of the Year in 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. He was also inducted into the Alabama Junior College Hall of Fame in 1991, the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006, the Alabama Coaches Hall of Fame in January 2009 and the Cullman County Hall of Fame in 2013.
Before coaching in Hanceville, Putman compiled a 152-28 career record at Tate High School in Pensacola, Fla., where he won two Class 4A state championships and coached former big leaguers Jay Bell and Travis Fryman. Putman played collegiately at Jacksonville State, earning All-Conference honors, and played professionally for three years with the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres.
For more information, contact:
Randy Putman, Wallace State Baseball Coach