Student Athlete of the Week: Pascagoula’s Keilon Parnell
Adding his name to the roster of athletes to receive the honor of being WXXV’s Student Athlete of the Week is a dual-sport athlete that is no stranger to the program: Pascagoula’s sophomore phenom, Keilon Parnell.
“It’s something I’ve got to do. I’ve got to do. Like if I don’t do it, it’s not me. Like I won’t be complete if I don’t play baseball,” said Parnell.
At age four, Parnell knew a baseball bat just felt right in his hands. Eleven years later, the outfielder holds a .357 batting average and is committed to play college ball at Mississippi State.
What may be the most impressive aspect about Parnell as a student athlete doesn’t have to do with a stat or a scholarship, it’s his ability to command whatever field he’s on as a sophomore.
Parnell said, “9th grade– that’s when I was nervous. But tenth grade I go used to it. Slowed down. The whole game slowed down. I feel like an upperclassman my tenth grade year to my last year. So it’s normal now.”
Pascagoula head baseball coach Richie Tillman said, “He handles pressure extremely well. He doesn’t see it as pressure. He sees it as an opportunity. So, he’s just going to continue to grow and get better.”
Baseball may be the sport that has had his heart the longest, however, when fall comes around and it’s time to strap on the pads, the quarterback leaves it all on the gridiron.
When asked which sport is his favorite, Parnell was torn.
“Whatever season is in, I guess. I mean that’s a hard– that’s like picking between macaroni and cheese and pizza for me. So I don’t know. It’s hard to pick,” said Parnell.
Whether he’s hitting home runs or scoring touchdowns, Parnell draws inspiration from his teammates, in turn making him a natural leader on his respective squads.
“The thing about Keilon is he’s just such a great leader. And the way he looks at it, he doesn’t want you to follow him, he wants you to walk with him into competition. And that’s the type of person he is. And that’s what makes him so special,” said Tillman.
“Not only is the future Bulldog a leader on the baseball diamond, Parnell is also a leader when it comes to the football field. During his sophomore campaign, the quarterback racked up 2,127 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading his Panthers to the South State Championship game.”
Parnell said, “Football season and baseball season started off the same way, you know. We started off slow and as the season went on we started clicking.”
En route to the semi-finals the Panthers defeated Hattiesburg in an overtime thriller on a 29-yard field goal from kicker Caden Chisolm– a victory in which Parnell tallied 168 yards and a rushing touchdown.
“It was shocking. It was overwhelming, especially that Hattiesburg game. That’s probably my favorite game so far. I thought– like I’m going to be honest– I thought we were going to lose, but coach stuck with it, my teammates stuck with it, so I had to stick with it. And when we stuck with it, we won.”
As for his remaining two years in a Panthers uniform, Parnell says he’s just going to take it day by day.