Price’s work yields top player honor

Published 11:25 am Friday, June 3, 2011

Big bat: Jason Price led Thorsby in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, RBI, walks, doubles and hits in a year in which the Rebels made their first appearance in the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

Jason Price enjoyed a breakout season in 2011, the result of a year of experience and an offseason spent in his personal batting cage.

And Price’s emergence was perhaps the most significant reason behind the Thorsby baseball team advancing to the semifinal round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

Price is The Clanton Advertiser’s Baseball Player of the Year, and his coach, Ab Argent, is the Coach of the Year.

Price, a righthanded hitter who plays first base and third base as well as pitch and catch, grew up playing baseball but suffered a major setback days before his freshman season in the form of a broken bone in his arm.

He missed all but one game that year, so 2010, his sophomore season, was his first on the varsity level. Price was good, leading the team with a .427 batting average as the Rebels played all the way to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs before falling in heartbreaking fashion at Lexington.

Fueled by his team’s exit and the thought that he was capable of playing better, Price spent his offseason in the batting cage at his home. He and teammate Stuart Scott, who was preparing for his first varsity action, threw to each other at least a couple of hours every day.

“We wanted to be better,” Price said. “I felt a lot more comfortable in the box.”

The work paid off: In 2011, Price led THS with a .577 average, .821 slugging percentage, .644 on-base percentage, 50 runs batted in, 23 walks, 22 doubles and 71 hits. His season batting average ranks eighth all-time in the state regardless of classification for those with a minimum of 100 at-bats, according to the Alabama High School Athletic Association website.

Price succeeded despite eventually paying for all the extra work.

Since about halfway through the season, he was playing through a pinched nerve, a bulging disc in his lower back and a hip that kept popping out of place.

“I didn’t feel it during the games because my adrenaline was going,” he said.

Price is understandably proud of his performance but perhaps more so that of the team, as the Rebels took the next step, defeating Houston Academy in the quarterfinals to become one of the last four 2A teams left in the state.

It was a milestone for the school and for Argent, who gets the most out of his players year after year by being demanding on the field but loyal to his players off the field.

Price said Argent’s style fits well with the 2011 group of Rebels, who are laid back.

“We probably wouldn’t be near as good as we were (without being pushed by Argent),” Price said.

Now there will be another offseason of working toward lofty goals.

“We want to go even further,” Price said.