Player of the Week: Ben Pettus
It is a funny thing having watched Ben Pettus over the course of his three seasons with the Demopolis Tigers. The youngest of the Pettus clan, Ben entered his freshman year shouldering all the expectations created by two older brothers whose legacies included state championships and Division I college scholarships. But Ben, a lanky freshman with a goofy grin, never seemed to cave under any of that pressure during a sterling freshman campaign as the Tigers’ starting shortstop.
Then came a treacherous sophomore slump that saw him scuffle. During that campaign, Ben smiled less, swung and missed more and seemed perennially lost during prolonged intervals.
This year, he was well on his way to an incredible junior year in the field, at the plate and on the mound before an arm injury derailed him slightly. He could still get it done in the field and at the plate, but the prognosis rendered him incapable of taking the mound, much to the chagrin of Ben and a Demopolis team in dire need of an experienced No. 2 starting pitcher behind Chase Cameron.
Friday night, something had to give. The Tigers had already worked Chilton County for a 7-1 road win earlier in the week behind Cameron and could move firmly into the driver’s seat with a game two victory over CCHS Friday. That venture fell flat early as the Tigers watched error after error and hit after hit lead to a 13-3 Chilton win. That game made the second part of the double-header relevant for tie-break purposes.
Knowing he needed a win and was just about out of options, head coach Ben Ramer gave the ball to Ben Pettus. Ramer admitted at the time that he wasn’t looking for a miracle, just a chance. Ramer wanted Ben to throw strikes for two innings and try to help his team find a rhythm.
Five innings later, Pettus walked off the mound after recording the last out of a 12-0 rout of Chilton. He wasn’t at his absolute best. But after weeks of not pitching, the Tigers were ecstatic to get a four-walk, three-hit, five-inning shutout from a guy they did not expect to have available coming into the day.
Ben also managed to go 3-for-3 at the plate out of the team’s No. 3 spot in the batting order. All in all, it was a pretty good day for the goofy kid with big shoes to fill. And what was more noticeable than anything? It was that toothy grin that always seems to accompany success for the last of this generation of Pettus boys.