Oak Grove's Boyd expected to finally see mound time

By ANDREW ABADIE,

It has now been almost three years since Southern Miss pitcher Drew Boyd saw action in a live game. 

 

The former Oak Grove standout’s last game pitching was in Game 2 of the South State Championship series against Gulfport in 2017. 

 

Boyd preserved the Warriors’ win that night and recorded the save for the win that night, but Oak Grove ultimately was one win away of playing for the 6A championship. However, Boyd’s heroics required surgery that eventually postponed his debut at Southern Miss for two years. 

 

In his career at Oak Grove, Boyd was a dual-threat pitcher and hitter. On the mound, Boyd posted a career 1.40 earned run average while throwing 192 strikeouts and walking 34 batters. In the batter’s box, Boyd had a career batting average of .324 in which he led his team in hitting his senior year with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 46 RBI and recorded a .422 batting average. 

 

However, in that season, Boyd had already injured his arm but played through the injury, which was the direct cause for Boyd’s long road back to the mound. 

 

“It’s been three years since I pitched in my senior year of high school and then I had surgery,” Boyd said. “Then it was a full two, two-and-a-half years before I pitched ever again.” 

 

“Being out there this fall and this spring and being a part of it. The fact that is has been just so fun being able to compete again and getting so close with my teammates on and off the field it’s easy to forget how long those two years felt when I was actually in those two years. It was tough.” 

 

For Boyd, missing his freshman year was not a highly difficult loss since it’s a common occurrence and it would be a chance for him to grow as a player. 

 

“It was easy to accept that first year because I thought it was not the worst thing in the world,” Boyd said. “I’m going to have a new arm; I’m going to learn a lot by watching and my body is going to have an extra year to develop, so I was very positive about that first year.”

 

The next season, Boyd still was not himself and went through several setbacks before realizing it would be another before he would play, which then led frustration growing inside of his head. 

 

“I learned a lot, but setbacks started coming in and it started looking like that I might sit out another year and then that’s when it started having it take a toll on me mentally,” Boyd said. “I would say it was right around the first half of last year that it looked like I was going to have to sit out a whole another year. I remember thinking after sitting out after one year that I don’t know how some people sit out for two years and then it ended up happening [to me].”

 

Despite the frustration, Boyd stayed positive and was finally able to step on the mound this past summer as he played for the Acadian Cane Cutters for summer baseball. It was there Boyd slowly redeveloped his pitching and found his identity again on the mound. 

 

“I think [summer baseball] was probably the best thing for me,” Boyd said. “I was thrown out into the fire because I was a starter from our first game, so I didn’t have any choice but to figure something out. Around that second or third outing, I found a way to throw all three of my pitches comfortable for strikes with consistency. The command was there with my fastball and changeup. I would say the speed of all three of my pitches and my curveball was well below where they needed to be. But when I came back this fall, that’s where I saw the most improvement.” 

 

This past summer, Boyd logged a 3.68 ERA while throwing seven strikeouts and allowing eight walks, but most importantly, Boyd regained his confidence in himself. 

 

“That first year, I was stressing myself out over my expectations and if I was letting people down by being injured and then honestly after that second year, I changed a lot as far as my mentality,” Boyd said. “This summer, I learned never to take any pitch or any game for granted because I forgot how fun it is to go out there and compete. I’ve definitely stopped worrying about expectations as far as when people want me to pitch or how they want me to or stuff like that.” 

 

According to pitching coach Christian Ostrander, Boyd’s progress has created excitement. 

 

“Drew had a good fall,” Ostrander said. “I loved where he was. I told him I feel like he is a guy that is going to be a big bullpen pitcher for me. That’s whether leftie on leftie or do this or that. I think he is effective against lefties or righties. I think he is going to be a guy that gets a chance to come in and get out of jams or do whatever and pitch. The opportunity is going to be there for him. 

 

When asked what he thought his role should be in the upcoming season, for Boyd to have any chance to pitch is all that mattered. 

 

But all that matters for Boyd is not to make his debut with a USM uniform anymore bigger than it will already be and to simply enjoy each moment is his main focus.

 

“I’ve definitely imagined [the first time on the mound],” Boyd said. “But I honestly down know because I imagined it last year, but it didn’t work out. I try not to think about it too much because I start to get excited about it. It will be a big moment, but I don’t want to make it more than it already will be.

 

“The only person I can control is me. If I’m worried about people’s expectations [then], that’s just going to put unnecessary pressure while I’m out there. It’s a lot easier to worry about me and going out there, playing ball and having fun.”

It has now been almost three years since Southern Miss pitcher Drew Boyd saw action in a live game.

The former Oak Grove standout’s last game pitching was in Game 2 of the South State Championship series against Gulfport in 2017.

Boyd preserved the Warriors’ win that night and recorded the save for the win that night, but Oak Grove ultimately was one win away of playing for the 6A championship. However, Boyd’s heroics required surgery that eventually postponed his debut at Southern Miss for two years.

In his career at Oak Grove, Boyd was a dual-threat pitcher and hitter. On the mound, Boyd posted a career 1.40 earned run average while throwing 192 strikeouts and walking 34 batters. In the batter’s box, Boyd had a career batting average of .324 in which he led his team in hitting his senior year with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 46 RBI and recorded a .422 batting average.

However, in that season, Boyd had already injured his arm but played through the injury, which was the direct cause for Boyd’s long road back to the mound.

“It’s been three years since I pitched in my senior year of high school and then I had surgery,” Boyd said. “Then it was a full two, two-and-a-half years before I pitched ever again.”

“Being out there this fall and this spring and being a part of it. The fact that is has been just so fun being able to compete again and getting so close with my teammates on and off the field it’s easy to forget how long those two years felt when I was actually in those two years. It was tough.”

For Boyd, missing his freshman year was not a highly difficult loss since it’s a common occurrence and it would be a chance for him to grow as a player.

“It was easy to accept that first year because I thought it was not the worst thing in the world,” Boyd said. “I’m going to have a new arm; I’m going to learn a lot by watching and my body is going to have an extra year to develop, so I was very positive about that first year.”

The next season, Boyd still was not himself and went through several setbacks before realizing it would be another before he would play, which then led frustration growing inside of his head.

“I learned a lot, but setbacks started coming in and it started looking like that I might sit out another year and then that’s when it started having it take a toll on me mentally,” Boyd said. “I would say it was right around the first half of last year that it looked like I was going to have to sit out a whole another year. I remember thinking after sitting out after one year that I don’t know how some people sit out for two years and then it ended up happening [to me].”

Despite the frustration, Boyd stayed positive and was finally able to step on the mound this past summer as he played for the Acadian Cane Cutters for summer baseball. It was there Boyd slowly redeveloped his pitching and found his identity again on the mound.

“I think [summer baseball] was probably the best thing for me,” Boyd said. “I was thrown out into the fire because I was a starter from our first game, so I didn’t have any choice but to figure something out. Around that second or third outing, I found a way to throw all three of my pitches comfortable for strikes with consistency. The command was there with my fastball and changeup. I would say the speed of all three of my pitches and my curveball was well below where they needed to be. But when I came back this fall, that’s where I saw the most improvement.”

This past summer, Boyd logged a 3.68 ERA while throwing seven strikeouts and allowing eight walks, but most importantly, Boyd regained his confidence in himself.

“That first year, I was stressing myself out over my expectations and if I was letting people down by being injured and then honestly after that second year, I changed a lot as far as my mentality,” Boyd said. “This summer, I learned never to take any pitch or any game for granted because I forgot how fun it is to go out there and compete. I’ve definitely stopped worrying about expectations as far as when people want me to pitch or how they want me to or stuff like that.”

According to pitching coach Christian Ostrander, Boyd’s progress has created excitement.

“Drew had a good fall,” Ostrander said. “I loved where he was. I told him I feel like he is a guy that is going to be a big bullpen pitcher for me. That’s whether leftie on leftie or do this or that. I think he is effective against lefties or righties. I think he is going to be a guy that gets a chance to come in and get out of jams or do whatever and pitch. The opportunity is going to be there for him.

When asked what he thought his role should be in the upcoming season, for Boyd to have any chance to pitch is all that mattered.

But all that matters for Boyd is not to make his debut with a USM uniform anymore bigger than it will already be and to simply enjoy each moment is his main focus.

“I’ve definitely imagined [the first time on the mound],” Boyd said. “But I honestly down know because I imagined it last year, but it didn’t work out. I try not to think about it too much because I start to get excited about it. It will be a big moment, but I don’t want to make it more than it already will be.

“The only person I can control is me. If I’m worried about people’s expectations [then], that’s just going to put unnecessary pressure while I’m out there. It’s a lot easier to worry about me and going out there, playing ball and having fun.”