Categorized | Sports

LaFosse was unsung, but major part of TRA’s recent success, heading to Southwest

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Jacob LaFosse flowing hair Jacob LaFosse Signing Jacob LaFosse Southwest

Recent Tipton-Rosemark Academy Baseball headlines have read Jacob Johnson becoming an All-Star and signing to Southwest Tennessee as a pitcher.
Connor Alexander also heading to Memphis and starts the 2014 season throwing a no-hitter. Even more recently, Gil Erwin emerges as a standout from the mound leading the Rebels to school’s first Regional championship.
One common and key factor to all those successful headlines has been their catcher Jacob LaFosse. Usually the man covered up in the mask and behind the scene, LaFosse grabbed enough attention to make a headline of his own.
On May 13 in the TRA Lobby with his parents Carla and Ronnie by his side, LaFosse inked his letter of intent to play college baseball for Southwest Tennessee and Head Coach George Skyes.
“JL impressed me because of his work ethic and his quarterback skills behind the plate which I like,” Skyes said. “I like our catchers knowing how to call a ball game. Coach Smith’s influence on him and his work ethic all were vital in him becoming a part of Southwest. He fits that triangle mode we look for.”
Skyes said LaFosse will be the ideal student/athlete for Southwest, and he expects him to compete and improve once he arrives on campus this fall.
“I see that maturity level happening because his going to play against players who are as good or even better than him,” he said. “You grow up a whole lot faster when you get challenged everyday.”
LaFosse took on the challenge of baseball when he was 9 years old. Stuck in the outfield, LaFosse noticed the position that was ideal for him.
“Outfield wasn’t cutting it,” Jacob recalled. “It was too boring. So I had to go somewhere I would always get the ball. So I chose catching because it keeps me focused. I love the position.”
Carla said her son’s competitive nature made him love the position and the game.
“He has things under control,” she said. “His control and ability to get the job done, he’s very competitive. He’s a motivator.”
Ronnie said Jacob motivating his pitchers over the years was just a part of his game. After growing into a patient hitter and top level defensive backstop, Jacob became one of the elite catchers in the area.
“It’s what we talked about,” Ronnie recalled. “Out of all the great baseball players in the Memphis area, a lot of them don’t get to play in college. We know this is a great opportunity.”
TRA Head Coach is familiar with the opportunity of playing college baseball. In his 7 years as the skipper at TRA Smith has witnessed 18 signings. But whenever a player inks a letter of intent to play at his alma mater Southwest, the day even more special to Smith.
“When I got into coaching, if you do it for the right reasons, this is one of the perks to give to some kid what some coach gave to you years ago,” he said. “To give them the opportunity to experience what I had a chance to experience, play college baseball.
“You put a good product on the field, a good team, it starts to attract people,” Smith continued. “You put a good product on the field, you start to win ball games. You win ball game, people start to notice your kids. How they play and what they do.”
Jacob is the latest to benefit from the championship success of the Rebels.
“I had a great experience at what is formerly known as Shelby State,” Smith said. “Southwest will be a good fit for him. My two years there, I still have great memories.
“I think he’s going to do very well,” he added. “Defensively he’s ready. He’s ready to catch at that level. He does so many things behind the plate. Other coaches note what he brings to a game minizie the run game, kepts ball in the dirt in front of him and hustle and desire. He doesn’t allow extra runs.”
When several colleges started to offer LaFosse it came as a surprise to the player used to the backdrop.
“I didn’t know I was that big of a tool for the team,” Jacob said. “I was just trying to do the best I could for my team.
“I love that I don’t have to wait on the ball to come to me,” he added. “What I like least, I am overlooked. You have the pitchers out there throwing the game. Nobody knows I am the one calling the pitches. They’re standing up there throwing what I am calling.”
But LaFosse said there are no hard feelings when he reads all about his pitchers winning awards and gaining recognition.
“I love it for my guys,” he said. “I give them all the glory. They all come up and say, ‘You actually did it.’ Especially Gil. He’s probably the best one. He says, ‘I wouldn’t have done this without you calling the pitches.’”
But the spotlight of May 13 clearly belonged to the ace behind the plate.
“It feels pretty good,” Jacob concluded. “I’m not used to it, but I got used to it quickly and it feels pretty good.”

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