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 28 winning seasons at Wallace State, advancing to the postseason in 28 of 30 years.
In 2019, Wallace State baseball constructed another impressive season, finishing with a 29-17 record and earning a first-round bye at the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Tournament. The Lions finished second in the the ACCC North Division, winning their final four regular season conference series. They went 22-10 in ACCC action.
After reaching the 1,000-win plateau in 2017, Putman has compiled a 1,096-490 record (.691 winning percentage) at Wallace State after 30 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 had impressive individual accomplishments during the 2019.
Easton Kirk was among the standouts. The sophomore from Piedmont was named a NJCAA Division I 3rd-team All-American in addition to being named the 2019 ACCC Player of the Year and the ACCC North Division Player of the Year. He was also selected to the ACCC All-Southeastern District team.
Kirk accomplished a rare feat in 2019, winning the ACCC Triple Crown. He finished the regular season with a .480 batting average, 18 home runs 64 RBIs. Kirk, a Troy University commit, added a .992 slugging percentage and had multi-hit performances in 18 games.
Freshman pitcher Jerry Dale Bowman anchored the pitching staff. Bowman went 8-1 with a 2.28 ERA and a pair of saves. He struck out 55 batters and walked only 17 in 67 innings pitched. Bowman earned All-Southeastern District Team recognition, was an ACCC Gold Glove recipient and was also an ACCC All-North Division team selection.
Sophomore Garrett Brown was also a steady force on the mound for the Lions, finishing with a 5-1 record and a 3.32 ERA.
Noah Fondren was a consistent bat for Wallace State, finishing with a .333 average, 19 RBIs and a team-high 12 steals. He was second on the team with 44 hits and added seven doubles.
Freshman Kevin Dowdell hit .291 with five homers and 35 RBIs.
Wallace State sophomores in 2019 were Kirk, Brown, Fondren, Robert Coleman, Brady Sherrill, Taylor Hayes, Collin Rogers and Caleb Lipsey.
Putman, originally from Birmingham, has coached 36 Wallace State players who have continued their careers professionally, including San Francisco Giants left-hander Derek Holland, Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, a five-time All-Star and the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year, infielder Jake Elmore of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, former MLB pitcher Graham Godfrey, 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.
In 2018, Blake 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 Kimbrel (3rd round, 2008).
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