Pascagoula High’s Keilon Parnell signs with Mississippi State baseball
When Pascagoula dual-sport standout Keilon Parnell was just a freshman, he gave his verbal pledge to Mississippi State baseball. Now a senior, the former News 25 Student Athlete of the Week is finally making good on that commitment almost three years later.
“After I committed, that relieves some stress. But signing and making it official, you feel part of the team and you can start building relationships on this team starting now.”
989 days after choosing the Bulldogs as a freshman, Keilon Parnell is choosing them all over again as a senior on National Signing Day. “State invited me to a camp and as soon as I saw the campus, that sold me right there. The relationship with the coaches started off at that camp, and ever since then, me and Coach Jake Gautreau stayed in touch with Lemonis, and hey, they made me sold. They sold me.”
Between then and now, the Diamond Dawgs giving Parnell plenty of reason to chant Hail State, having won the 2021 College World Series the summer before his junior season. “Winning the natty, yeah, so that put the cherry on top right there. They had an extended cut they posted on YouTube. I watched it probably like a week straight, seven days a week.”
Nothing quite like Omaha, but Parnell has been a part of some pretty big moments during his time as a Panther, going all the way to the 5A South State championship game for football in 2020 and then all the way to the 5A State Championship series for baseball six months later. “The seniors, what the 2021 class did, I’m trying to do exactly the same but more. I’ve got to get one more step closer to that state championship. I’m trying to put the ring on my finger.”
Parnell’s ‘we before me’ attitude has been contagious, ever since being moved up to varsity for baseball in the eighth grade. Head Baseball Coach Richie Tillman said, “Keilon has always been a man among boys, and now he’s turned into just an exceptional leader, a guy that people love to follow. He just brings the energy. He just makes everyone better. There are not many of those guys in this world. You think of Michael Jordan, he’s one of those guys. Keilon is one of those special people that makes everyone around him better.”
Parnell says playing not only center field, but quarterback gave him a crash course on leadership 101. After accounting for 65 total touchdowns on Friday nights, the newest Bulldog is hanging up the shoulder pads for good. “I thought about it, and it was a hard talk with me and my parents, and it came down to literally a week before this, and we just talked about it and said baseball, it’s just going to be baseball.”
Hard choice, but probably the right choice, at least based on his last full season as a sophomore in which Parnell hit .414 with 39 runs, 32 RBI, 14 doubles, five triples, and two home runs.
Now a senior, his last season will be Head Coach Richie Tillman’s last season with both parties hoping to recreate some of that same Panther magic from 2012. “We’ve got to give it to him, man. He’s been working hard. He showed me his true colors these four years. He’s a good man, great man. He’s a jokester. That’s what kind of coach you need.”
“Hopefully they’ll be at the College World Series that I can get free tickets one day. But most definitely, when you get to play in the SEC, no matter what school, it’s the upper echelon of college baseball, and so this is a huge accomplishment.”
Parnell says he’s going to major in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture sciences upon his arrival in Starkville in July.