Rebel baseball commit trying to make history

T.J. House (LHP, Picayune, MS) - Mississippi has never had a player to participate in the Pam Am games, but the southpaw from Picayune is trying to break the barrier.

"I was selected to the Tournament of Stars," added the 6' 1", 205 pound T.J. House. "It was a tryout for the JR National Team. There were 144 players invited from USA. We all got together for a week in Barry (NC) to make the cut of 32. I made the cut. We had a couple more players from Mississippi to get invited for the tryouts. They were 1B Nick Gray out of Gulfport and RHP Paxton King. I thought both of them were very deserving to get selected too. We (Mississippi) always get the raw deal."

House became the Maroon's ace as a freshman, which is highly unusual for a higher classification club in the Mississippi ranks. T.J. had a 2.50 ERA with 42 strikeouts as a freshman and posted a 2.56 ERA with 91 K's and 31 walks as a sophomore. This past season he struck out 115 batters in 64 innings and carried a 1.69 ERA for a 6-20 club.

T.J. House

"We have not been good since I have been here, but that has not stopped me from trying to become the best player I can possibly be. A lot of people were telling me to transfer to a school like Hillcrest Christian (in Jackson, MS), but I have too much pride in my town. Maybe next year we can break through."

T.J. Had a chance to set a school record this season.

"I struck out 20 against Poplarville in 7 innings. That set a single game strike out record at our school."

Post season awards came left and right for Mississippi's top '08 prospect.

"I was named to the All-Coast team, and I played in the South MS All-Star classic. I was also selected to the AFLAC All-star team, but I was not able to go because of a prior engagement."

For now, T.J.'s focus is to become the only Mississippian to ever play in the Pam Am games.

"I did pretty well in North Carolina to make the cut. I pitched 8 innings and I did not give up any runs. I had 4 strikeouts against Dixie and 2 strikeouts in the other game. Now we head to Joplin (MO) on August 13th for four days. Our team (Team USA) will play Team Canada for two games and then we have two more intersquad games. The coaches will narrow it down to 20 players for the Pan Am games which will be played in Ixtapa, Mexico on August 24 - September 3. If we finish in the Top 2 for the Pan Am games, it qualifies us to play in the 2008 Olympics."

The Ole Miss commit also learned a little history lesson as well.

"Coach Rob (from Ole Miss) told me that no one from Mississippi has ever made it past the cut of 32. He told me that Ole Miss was the only school to have any of their signees from Mississippi to make it to the field of 32. I think he said Justin Reed, Stephen Head, and Seth Smith were the other players to make it this far."

T.J. is honored to be a part of this group, but make no bones about it, he will not be satisfied unless he makes the final roster for the Pan Am games.

"It has always been my dream to play in the Pam Am games. That is the highest honor an amateur can receive. I have made it this far, but I still have a ways to go. I know in my heart I can do it. I have competed against all of these guys in national tournaments for years now. I belong. Now I just have to prove that to the coaches."

In the meantime, House will be busy in another tournament.

"I am playing for the Bill Hood Broncos. We are in the Connie Mack league. We are playing in the championship tournament which is the biggest wooden bat tournament in the country. Connie Mack has a World Series in Mexico and the eight regional winners are invited. If we do not qualify, Farmington picked me as one of his two pitchers to play for their team. They have already qualified for the World Series, so I know I am playing in it no matter what."

When was the last time T.J. heard from the college he is committed to?

"I talk to Coach Rob almost every week. I give him an update on my games. He is almost like a brother to me. My dream has always been to play in the pros, but it would take a whole/whole lot of money for me to not play at Ole Miss first."


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