By Kevin Maloney
Jones College Sports Information
ELLISVILLE – Former MACCC and SEC catcher Wes Thigpen has been named the 16th head coach in Jones College baseball history.
Thigpen was recently approved by the Jones Board of Trustees and made official on Tuesday, June 1. He replaces Chris Kirtland after 12 seasons with the program, including the last six as head coach.
"I couldn't be more excited to be back at Jones," Thigpen said. "This is a place that means a lot to me and my family. It's an honor to be the head coach at such a great college."
Thigpen returns to Jones College after a two-year hiatus, spending the past two seasons as the head coach at rival Mississippi Gulf Coast.
After Thigpen's first season was cut short due to CoVID-19, the Bulldogs finished the 2021 regular season 20-19 and advanced to the postseason.
The Luling, Louisiana, native has an impressive track record as a pitching coach and recruiter following a playing career that reached the professional level.
"Wes has proven to be a man of great character, and possesses the leadership skills, competitive nature and desire that's necessary to be successful at this level," athletic director Joel Cain said. "He has a solid background not only as a collegiate player in the toughest league in the country in the SEC, but also as a former player in what we think is the best two-year conference in the nation. We're excited about the product he will put on the field and look forward to celebrating several championships in the near future."
In his first stint from 2017-19 as the Bobcats' pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, Jones was 121-27 (.818) with an MACCC title and two regular-season runner-up finishes. His staff finished all three years in the Top 10 in ERA in NJCAA Division II, including the 2017 squad which finished second with an eye-popping 2.74 ERA.
Under Thigpen's guidance, two pitchers have earned NJCAA All-American honors. Will Freeman, who signed with Alabama, was picked by the San Diego Padres in the 2018 MLB Draft
Thigpen spent the 2016 season as the pitching coach at Hinds, where all four sophomore pitchers signed to play NCAA Division I.
Thigpen was introduced to the MACCC in 2008 as a catcher at Meridian Community College. He started in 99 career games for the Eagles, helping them to a conference title as a freshman and region championship and NJCAA World Series berth as a sophomore.
After two all-conference seasons and an all-region sophomore campaign, Thigpen became a two-year starter at Mississippi State where he was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and helped the Bulldogs to a Super Regional appearance as a senior in 2011.
While at Mississippi State as a graduate assistant in 2014-15, he was also able to work closely with widely respected pitching coach Butch Thompson, now the head coach at Auburn University. Thigpen was also able to catch or coach numerous professional and eventual MLB pitchers between his time in the SEC and in pro ball.
Thigpen would then enter the professional playing ranks with the Detroit Tigers organization in June 2011. He advanced all the way to the Double-A level in just his second season in 2012 before ending his playing career at the end of the 2012 summer to complete his education.
Cody Livingston and Jonathan Parker, both assistants under Thigpen at Gulf Coast, will join his staff at Jones. Parker was a member of the 2016 national championship team at Jones.