All-Area MVP: The power of Prince

Trojan Brandon Prince Fields a ground ball

Corey Cusick/Times-Georgian

Brandon Prince has been a fixture within the Carrollton High School baseball program ever since arriving on the scene as a freshman.

His presence and productivity progressed during his first two seasons donning the Black and Gold, but the versatile Trojan talent truly stormed into the spotlight this past spring.

The junior shortstop served as a staple of stability in the three hole offensively and delivered a steady dynamic defensively in the middle infield en route to a breakout campaign to help catapult Carrollton to a second straight Region 7-AAAAA title and back-to-back state quarterfinal appearances.

Prince, the 2018 Times-Georgian All-Area MVP, was at his best when it mattered most by coming through in the clutch time and time again, taking the reins as the catalyst to ignite his Trojan teammates.

"He really was the anchor for us in that No. 3 hole. A big RBI guy. He was somebody with ducks on the pond, we could really count on him," Carrollton head coach Ryan Zaideman said. "He didn't strike out very much. He was going to put the ball in play. He came up with numerous doubles and triples in key situations to get that spark going and our offense would just catch on fire. He was one of those guys that just got everything going."

Prince hit a team-best .464 — including a scorching .492 with runners in scoring position — belting out 58 hits with 13 doubles, six triples and one home run with 49 runs scored and 42 RBI. He also stole 30 bases this year, which marked a program record dating back to 2002.

Reflecting on his junior season, the Region 7-AAAAA Player of the Year said it was a matter of him coming into his own after two years of being thrown into the varsity fire as an underclassmen.

"The game has really slowed down for me. I see the ball a lot better and I feel way more comfortable at the plate. Having the guys in the dugout cheering me up and keeping me going, it all is one big team sport," Prince said.

Although Prince has received numerous postseason accolades to go along with region and all-state honors, he said it couldn't happen without the effort of his teammates and coaches.

"Making it to the elite eight was a big one. Everybody came together as a team. We all jelled together perfect. We never got in fights, we never blamed each other. We just did our job," Prince said.

Zaideman credited Prince's ability to play multiple positions as another key asset in solidifying the defense if guys needed to shift spots on any given day or inning.

"He's a good enough athlete where he can play just about any position on the field. That really helps the team. He's another one that's just unselfish. If we need him to play third base, second base, he's willing to do that. He'll just step in and go," Zaideman said.

Part of Prince's growth offensively was his approach at the plate in 2018. After being a little too aggressive in the box at times during his sophomore season, Prince let the game come to him this spring and he was able to reap the rewards for picking his spots and punishing opposing pitching.

Where his aggression did pay off this year was on the base paths, creating extra scoring opportunities with his speed.

"He really picked up on the new running program that coach (Scott) Edwards has put in. He was just a bandit on the base paths for us this year. He set the record for us in stolen bases. He just really picked up on some of the new stuff that coach Edwards put in with our vaults and everything and he just really excelled," Zaideman said.

While his offensive numbers shot through the roof this year, Prince was even more proud of the strides he made defensively.

"Defense wins the game, so my pride goes into playing good defense and covering the middle and moving left and right," Prince said. "The middle infield to me is one of the main spots where the ball's going to be hit. You've got to cover all of it and get it."

Since the end of the season in May, Prince has remained busy, playing for Junior Team Georgia at the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma on June 8-13 and he's also preparing to join forces with the Ohio Warhawks this week for a tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, where they'll get to attend a College World Series game.

The extra exposure should help Prince gain more college interest to take his talents to the next level. Zaideman expects his rising senior to pick up two offers very soon and believes there will be plenty more to follow leading up to his senior season.

"He's got a lot of interest from some DII schools and he has some DIs following him, too," Zaideman said. "Right now, his ceiling is really high, as far as what he can do. What helps him, too, is he can go to the next level and play outfield, he can play infield and everything else. But the good thing about Brandon, I know he's going to come in and give the same work ethic and he's going to remain humble and hungry. He always plays with that same intensity and competitive spirt. That's what makes him such a good baseball player."

Of course, before Prince turns his attention to the college game, he's got some unfinished business to attend to on his final ride with the Trojans in 2019.

"We've got everybody coming back and everybody is friends. I'm looking forward to another great elite eight run and final four and maybe state champs," Prince said.