He’s still turning heads as a junior.
The Eagles’ shortstop/pitcher continued his onslaught against the competition this season, leading the Eagles in hitting and most offensive categories.
Rouse is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s Player of the Year.
Rouse hit .486 this season with 17 doubles, six home runs and 48 RBIs. He was also the ace on the mound, going 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA for a team that advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
The junior caught fire when it mattered most, leading the Eagles to area wins over West Blocton and Cordova as Sumiton Christian battled back to win the area championship and a first-round home playoff series.
“Down the stretch he was just killing it,” Sumiton Christian coach Lance Blair said. “He was average over the first part of the year. He was hitting about .350. During the second half, he was hitting everything. Against Blocton and Cordova he just got hit after hit after hit. It seemed like he never got out. He was batting .515 going into the second round. He struggled a little against Dadeville.”
Rouse was also an first-team All-State selection this year for the second time in his Sumiton Christian career.
He challenged Sumiton Christian’s single-season batting record, eventually finishing behind Chris Sosebee and Alex Turner, and also set the single-season record and career mark for doubles with 60.
As for games this season, Blair said the first-round series opener against Beulah stands out.
Though Rouse struggled in the game, he belted a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the eight inning as Sumiton Christian earned a 9-7 victory.
“That Beulah game stands out because he didn’t have his best stuff on the mound, but he gutted it out and kept us in there. Then he hit a homer to put it away,” Blair said.
The Eagles won the second game 19-1.
In the series, Rouse was 8-for-9 with four doubles, a home run, five runs and 11 RBIs.
“The thing about Josh is that he hits the hard-throwing guys and he hits the guys that throw slow. Over the years, I’ve had guys that do one or the other. He does both,” Blair said. “He’s got a great eye. He flirted with breaking our single-season batting record.”
Sumiton Christian will return seven starters next season as the team makes the move to Class 2A.
“Our (pitching) staff should be really strong. We’ve got five guys coming back with significant innings. You can’t beat that. I’m feeling good about that. I think we should be a stronger team next year because of experience,” Blair said.