There are many reasons the Brighton High School baseball team bounced back from a disappointing 2022 season to win this year’s district championship. Many players have made significant contributions.
Four of the big reasons have been seniors Andrew Davis, Bennett Stutts, Ben Lavelle and Luke Perkins. Davis signed with Northeast Mississippi Community College and Stutts with Dyersburg State last month. Lavelle and Perkins signed with Jackson (Tenn.) State Community College Monday and Tuesday, respectively, giving the 2023 Cardinals four college signees.
The duo that plays next to each other on the diamond (Lavelle at second base and Perkins at first) will now play together at the next level.
Lavelle and Perkins visited the campus two weeks ago, liked what they saw and decided to commit.
“It was in a good area, a lot of things in the area to do,” Lavelle said. “The coaches were really nice. They just seemed like my kind of people.”
“At the beginning of baseball season I decided I didn’t want to hang it up,” Perkins said. “Everything (at Jackson State during the visit) was really relaxed and chill. I really liked the environment.”
Lavelle and Perkins have both been starters started since their sophomore years. They were key players on the 2021 team that became the first from Brighton to make the state tournament. Perkins hit a homer in his first at-bat of the state tournament, which was a harbinger of things to come for the 6-4 power hitter.
The Cardinals did not advance out of the district tournament last season, but rebounded nicely this season and are a favorite to get back to state. Head coach Ryan Wood, who took Brighton to its first state tournament two seasons ago and has been very successful during his tenure, said Lavelle and Perkins are among the reasons the Cardinals have a chance to get back.
Perkins was known as a hitter first who gradually developed defensively. The opposite was true for Lavelle.
“Ben was always known as a defensive guy,” Wood said. “His offense really came along this year and that gave him an opportunity to play at the next level. I think he’ll have a chance to step in and play as middle infielder … Luke’s a big kid with a good frame who can hit. I bet they’ll find a place for him in the lineup.”