PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast has hired Wes Thigpen, known for his outstanding work with pitchers and his doggedness on the recruiting trail, to be its next head baseball coach.
"I'm humbled and very honored to be the new coach at Gulf Coast," he said. "I can't wait to get started. We're going to hit the ground running to bring a national championship home."
Thigpen has spent the last three years at Jones College, where the team went 121-27 (.818) with one MACJC title with two regular-season runner-up finishes. His pitching staffs finished all three years in the top 10 in ERA in Division II, including the 2017 squad which finished second with an eye-popping 2.74 ERA. During his three seasons at Jones, his staff had a 3.34 ERA.
"Going into this search, we felt like we needed to find a high character individual who excels as both a recruiter and leader of younger men," Gulf Coast Athletic Director Steven Campbell said. "I think we found exactly what we were looking for in Wes Thigpen. I think what excites me the most about Wes is his competitive nature and desire to not only win but win the right way. When you look at all the things that Wes has been able to accomplish as both a player and coach, it is easy to see that this guy is a winner."
Thigpen coached two pitchers to NJCAA All-American honors at Jones and had Will Freeman picked by the San Diego Padres in the MLB Draft.
He spent 2016 as the pitching coach at Hinds, where all four sophomore pitchers signed to play NCAA Division I.
Thigpen was introduced to the MACJC when he started playing catcher at Meridian in 2008. He was a two-time All-MACJC performer who earned All-NJCAA Region 23 honors as a sophomore.
He moved up Highway 45 to Mississippi State for two seasons as a starter behind the plate. While there, he worked with Butch Thompson, then the pitching coach and now a respected head coach at Auburn. The Bulldogs made the Super Regionals during his senior season in 2011 when he was a team captain.
Thigpen advanced to Double-A with the Detroit Tigers organization in two seasons, but ended his playing career to begin coaching.
Thigpen is originally from Luling, La. He is married to his wife, Holly, and they have a son, Maddox Joseph, 2.
At Gulf Coast, he'll have a lot of work to do with short deadlines.
"We're going to get our coaching staff put together to get this program going quickly," Thigpen said. "I'll talk to our current players about what we're going to do, and we'll start talking with recruits right away. We're in the middle of a very important time in recruiting, and we want to get guys here and get them committed."
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