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The Wallace State baseball program, which has former players succeeding in the major leagues, continues to be a powerhouse in the state and on the national level under NJCAA Hall of Fame head coach Randy Putman. Since his arrival to Hanceville in 1990, Putman has recorded 23 winning seasons at Wallace State, advancing to the postseason in 23 of 25 years.
Putman surpassed another milestone during the 2014 season by reaching the 900-win plateau. He earned win No. 900 on March 27 in a victory against Lawson State and has compiled a 910-401 record in 25 seasons at Wallace State. Putman has guided his teams to seven Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) state championships, six Southeastern Regional Championships and six World Series appearances on the NJCAA Division I level.
During a rebuilding season in 2014, Wallace State finished one win shy of qualifying for the postseason for the 24th time in Putman's 25 seasons. The Lions, who suffered some tough season-ending injuries, were led by the sophomore duo of Grant Bennett and Alex Hegner on the mound. Bennett rebounded from arm injuries in 2013 and finished with a 2.19 ERA in nine starts, tossing nine complete games along the way to earn him 1st-team All-ACCC North Division recognition. Bennett, a Hazel Green product, struck out 68 hitters and allowed only 55 hits in 70 innings, two years after earning a second-team nod on the All-ACCC Northern Division team in 2012. Meanwhile, Hegner went 3-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 12 starts in 2014, pitching two complete games. Bennett will continue his career at Troy University, Hegner at Georgia State and Wallace State lefty Izaac Yarbrough, who was lost after one outing in 2014 because of Tommy John surgery, will pitch next for Auburn University.
Freshman Landon Hughes was the top arm out of the Wallace State bullpen, recording four saves and compiling a 3.33 ERA.
Wallace State had new faces up and down the lineup in 2014. Freshman Drake Tucker hit .270 with a homer, 24 RBIs and six stolen bases for the Lions. Luke Porter, a freshman catcher, had 21 RBIs, Oliver Francis finished with a homer, 18 RBIs and eight steals and Bennett hit .318 with 21 runs scored and a team-high 10 steals.
Bennett, Hegner, Yarbrough, Andrew Smith, Colt Buttram, Zac Hatfield, Frank Alcantara, Bailey Chesser and Joe Klepac made up the 2014 sophomore class.
Putman, originally from Birmingham, has coached 31 Wallace State players who have continued their careers professionally, including Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, a four-time All-Star and the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year, Cincinnati Reds infielder Jake Elmore, pitcher Graham Godfrey of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization and Zelous Wheeler of the New York Yankees organization. In July 2014, Wheeler was promoted to the New York Yankees, marking the fifth former Wallace State Lion to make his major league debut within the past six years. Putman also coached former major league outfielder Terry Jones, who played with the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies.
Putman's storied career has resulted in him being named the ACCC Baseball Coach of the Year in 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. He was also inducted into the Alabama Junior College Hall of Fame in 1991, the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006, the Alabama Coaches Hall of Fame in January 2009 and the Cullman County Hall of Fame in 2013.
Before coaching in Hanceville, Putman compiled a 152-28 career record at Tate High School in Pensacola, Fla., where he won two Class 4A state championships and coached former big leaguers Jay Bell and Travis Fryman. Putman played collegiately at Jacksonville State, earning All-Conference honors, and played professionally for three years with the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres.
Adam Scott, a former Hueytown star and Alabama pitcher, was a Wallace State assistant for the third straight year in 2014, and Luke Satterfield completed his first year.
For more information on Wallace State baseball, contact Coach Putman at 256-352-8247 or email Randy.Putman@WallaceState.edu.