MSU 2012 Commit Diversifying and Learning

Houston (MS) High School junior Jacob Shempert, a Mississippi State commitment, is learning a new position this year and is also working to improve his overall game.

"Defensively, I've been playing third base, I've pitched a little bit and I have caught," said Shempert, who mainly caught and pitched last season. "I've been hitting pretty good but I could be hitting even better. I'm just looking forward to improving and going on with the season."

Shempert played with the Marucci travel team program this past summer and feels the time he spent with them helped his game tremendously.

"This summer I tried to work on focusing more on the game," said Shempert. " And getting to see all the new competition and all the great players that I played against this summer, that really helped me a lot."

And he's seeing the benefit of facing such great competition, especially hitting-wise.

"This season, I'm more confident and know the game better," said Jacob. "But mostly, I'm just more confident at the plate."

After hitting .348 with 6 home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games in 2010, this season Jacob is batting .462 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI in 10 games.

While improving his play in the field and at-bat were two things he worked on during the summer and off-season, he also worked on the intangibles such as being more of a leader.

"I knew, coming into this season, (my high school team) would have to have a good many leaders on the team, (so) I tried to stay more into the game and be more of a leader," said Jacob.

And his high school coach has seen the benefits of his efforts.

"His whole work ethic has really stepped up a notch," said Houston High head coach Scott Gann. "One of the biggest things is he is leading the guys by doing instead of telling. You can see the maturity in a younger guy by him showing up every day and working hard, and not just telling them to do it but by actually showing them how we are going to do it and get better."

Speaking of the maturity of younger guys, Jacob has proven to be a team-first player as well. After playing mostly catcher last season with some pitching thrown in due to his arm strength, Jacob is playing more at third base this season.

"We have a really good younger catcher, Kody Kimbrough, who really needs to be in the lineup but he can't play anywhere else, so if Jacob is not pitching, we usually put him at third base," said Gann. "It's really helped the team a lot to have his bat in the lineup. The guy who is usually at third is still in the lineup, too, usually as a DH. That allows us to get a few more bats in the lineup."

And Jacob is fine with that.

"When I play third, we have a good lineup," said the youngster. "But really whatever the coach wants to do is where I play."

A Mississippi State commitment, Jacob keeps up with his future teammates when possible.

"I follow Mississippi State some," said Jacob. "I go to some of their games, and I talk to the coaches every once in a while. We talk about what is going on now, how their season and my season are going."

Look for additional updates on Jacob Shempert during the upcoming months.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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