DeSoto County natives reflect on College World Series win

Sports

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Mississippi State freshman infielder Kamren James always knew he was going to play for the Bulldogs.

“I’ve been coming to these games since I was little, since I can remember.”  

The former Desoto Central standout watched in the stands as his older brother, Keegan, and the Dawgs went to back-to-back trips to Omaha. 

“I made the [2019] trip to go and watch and saw them lose on that walk off to Louisville,” said James. “So, to kind of see something that was so close – they were so close to winning it.” 

Well, this year they won it all! Taking home the University’s first national championship in school history.

And James did it along side three other Desoto County natives; Lake cormorant’s Brayland Skinner, Desoto Central’s Cade Smith, and former ECS pitcher Houston Harding. 

“It’s unbelievable,” said Harding. “I think that’s the ultimate goal growing up is you want to leave your mark on where you’re at, hopefully make some history while you’re there. It’s just that – words can’t really do it justice honestly. It’s been such a blessing to be a part of such a special group of people.” 

Harding went from leaving ECS without a single Division I offer to getting the start in the College World Series, pitching in a must win Game 2 against Vanderbilt in the finals. 

“That’s a God thing right there,” Harding said. “He’s blessed me with every ounce of talent that I have, and you know it’s just another one of those things, I kind of gives me chill bumps to think about, but God’s timing is perfect. It may not always be Division I right away. It’s one of those things you have to grind for, and you have to put your head down and just keep working and know that his plan will be perfect, and I think getting to do that is something that I’ll remember for as long as I breathe.” 

Skinner. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Skinner got the game winning run in the Bulldog’s elimination game against Texas in the CWS semifinals. He also got the start in the final game against the Commodores.

Smith pitched in three games in Omaha as part of that talented Mississippi State bullpen, getting a win over Virginia.

Both James and Smith helped lead Desoto Central to back-to-back MHSAA 6A state titles, so they know a thing or two about what it takes to win that last game of the season. 

“I just remembered thinking how cool it would it be to hit a homerun in TD Ameritrade and for me to do it in the championship series against arguably the best pitcher in college baseball was definitely awesome,” James said. “There was about 24,000 Mississippi State fans there so you couldn’t even hear yourself think when I did it.” 

James. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“Then to make the last out. Like [Houston Harding] said our defense was tremendous and to be able to make that last play. As soon as Luke caught it at first base, we got to dog pile. It was a cool moment.” 

A moment this Bulldogs team and the entire city of Starkville will never forget. 

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