POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The reigning 2019 Region XXIII champion Pearl River Wildcats have bolstered their infield with another prep signing.
On Thursday coach Michael Avalon announced the addition of John Griffin Bell. The shortstop is a Mobile, Alabama, native who played for Faith Academy.
"He's a phenomenal talent. J.G. is a very athletic and explosive middle infielder," Avalon said. "This was one of the last pieces of the puzzle for this class. I feel like this team now has important playable depth at all positions and I'm ecstatic to add J.G. to our team."
Bell joins an incoming class that already includes Dallas Baptist transfer and West Harrison product Tate Parker along with high school signees Turner Swistak (Oak Grove), Banks Hyde (Heritage Academy), Dawson Strong (St. Stanislaus), Ryan Burt (New Hope), Byrion Robinson (Brookhaven), Sam Hiill (West Jones), Matt Mercer (Petal), D.K. Donaldson (West Harrison), T.J. Ryals (Seminary) and Mason Smith (Northeast Jones). Former PRCC third baseman Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) has also re-joined the program after playing for Southern Miss during the abbreviated 2020 season.
Avalon believes the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Bell is a well-rounded shortstop who will contribute to PRCC's success in all facets of the game.
During his prep career, Bell hit .331 with nine homers, six triples, 25 doubles and 71 RBIs with a .449 on-base percentage and .525 slugging. He also stole 38 bases. Bell was named ASWA Class 6A Second Team All-State in 2019 and Program 15 All-Prospect Top 10. Thanks in large part to Bell, Faith won the 5A State Championship in 2018 and was the runner-up in '17.
"He should hit for high average with some pop at the top of the order," Avalon said. "He should be able to create on the base paths."
Defensively, Avalon called Bell a plus-defender with great range at the premium defensive position.
"J.G. has solid actions with a strong arm, reads the ball off the bat well and has good instincts," he said.
Additionally, Avalon said Bell could step in and pitch if needed.
"He's a quality arm on the mound with good stuff," he said.
In addition to being a standout on the diamond, Bell also played football at Faith. He helped lead Faith to an undefeated campaign and 5A Regional Championship in '19. During his career on the gridiron, Bell recorded 1,210 receiving yards, 154 rushing yards, 327 return yards and scored 17 touchdowns with three interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.
Bell was a high school teammate of recent PRCC grad and Southern Miss signee Reece Ewing on Faith's 2018 state championship squad.
"Over the last couple of years we have been fortunate to add a couple players from tradition-rich Faith Academy," Avalon said. "Adding guys from programs like Faith are important to me because they know how to handle the expectation of winning."
Bell originally signed with Auburn in the fall.
The Dub is hosting summer baseball this year, welcoming teams from the Deep South Collegiate League and Southeast Collegiate League.
The DSCL will play at The Dub on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while the SCL will use PRCC's facilities on Mondays.
A limited number of fans will be able to attend games due to ongoing state and national guidelines relating to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Games will be livestreamed (video only) at PRCCMedia.com in a pay-per-view format for $7 per day.
Pearl River's baseball program is hosting a high school showcase July 7.
The event at Dub Herring Park is open to rising sophomores to unsigned seniors who have graduated (Class of 2020 to 2023).