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The start of the 2011 high school baseball season is just over a month away and the Andrew Jackson High team is armed for the campaign.
Volunteers’ ace sophomore pitcher Tripp Rollings has garnered a pair of baseball honors.
Rollings, who starred for the Volunteers and the Lancaster American Legion Post 31 team, is ranked third in the 15-under individual player ratings by the Amateur Baseball Report.
Rollings, third behind Blake Wiggins of Arkansas and Bryce Carter of Oklahoma, is regarded as a right-handed pitcher who “throws into the high 80s off the mound. Has a great presence on the field. Projects as a top pitching prospect who can develop in the field,” according to an Amateur Baseball Report release.
Rollings, an all-region performer for the Vols last spring, was named the Most Promising Prospect with the Lancaster Post 31 Legion team last summer.
Rollings was a key performer on the 20-4 P-31 junior team which won the League V title and earned the top seed in the state tournament.
He was a standout on the 2010 AJ Vols’ baseball team under coach Mike Lucas. The 17-11 Vols finished as the Conference IV-AA runner-up and received a bid to the Class AA Upper State playoffs.
Rollings, in his freshman season, was 5-0 with a 3.30 earned run average. In 55 innings, he struck out 91 – an average of 11.6 per seven innings.
He also hit .329, with a .570 slugging percentage and .470 on base percentage. Rollings drilled four home runs with seven doubles and 30 runs batted in.
Rollings also earned selection to the 16-player USSSA first-team All-American team which competed in the All-American Games in Kissimmee, Fla.
The Games were held at the Houston Astros spring training complex.
Rollings was selected out of a regional tryout held at Charleston Southern University after being recommended by Lucas.
“Tripp dominated at the regional and did the same at the All-American Games,” according to a USSSA baseball release. “The 16-player team included two from West Virginia and one each from a different state.
“Tripp was the only player from South Carolina, so that is quite an honor.”
Rollings, according to the release, hit well and played solid defense, but earned his berth as a top-notch hurler.
“Tripp sat at 89 miles per hour and topped out at 92 miles per hour. He is a great competitor and defines what a pitcher is. Tripp has a great future and needs to stay healthy and continue to progress,” the release said.
The Vols opened preseason practice Monday afternoon.
AJ will play in the Gameday at Doomsday, a high school baseball jamboree at Lancaster High School on Feb. 19.
The Vols and the Buford Yellow Jackets will also co-host a preseason tournament, Comporium Preseason Invitational, Feb. 26-March 5.
“Tripp has a tremendous amount of potential and a fine work ethic,” Lucas said. “Tripp has a great opportunity. He has to continue to work hard on and off the field.”