THOMASVILLE -- Thomas County Central catcher Dean McDermond has been the brick wall which anchors the Yellow Jackets baseball team this season.

Through 10 games, he has thrown out 10 of 20 attempted base thieves and has allowed zero passed balls.

All in his first full season as a catcher for the Jackets.

For the past two years McDermond has played third base because the Jackets' catcher position had been held by Brett Palmer, who is now a freshman at Thomas University. With Palmer's departure, McDermond was given the opportunity to play the position he grew up playing.

"I've played catcher most of my life," McDermond said. "It's where I feel most comfortable."

McDermond hasn't disappointed Central head coach Scott Brown. Brown believes McDermond has saved the Jackets' numerous runs by using his quick reflexes to knock down would-be wild pitches.

"He's saved us a lot of bases," Brown said. "He's probably taken two to three wild pitches away from our pitchers a game. That alone may have saved us a run a game."

Brown has also been impressed with McDermond's leadership on the field.

"He's invaluable, a great leader," Brown said. "He doesn't say much but leads by example real well."

He has not only been great behind the plate but also has been one of the Jackets' most consistent hitters. He is among the team leaders in most offensive categories.

On the year, McDermond is batting .371 with three doubles and eight runs batted in. He also has a team-high five walks, giving him a .450 on base percentage. This has come against some of the top teams Region 1-AAAA and state.

The stiff competition is something McDermond believes will help the Jackets become better in region tournament play.

"We've seen some of the best pitchers in the state and we won't see pitching like that again in the tournament," McDermond said.

How far the Jackets advance in the region tournament will rest heavy on McDermond's shoulders. Brown believes the Jackets have a shot of advancing far if the pitching staff is able to step up. McDermond's ability to call a game will play a big part in that, but Brown has confidence in him.

"He's helped the pitchers stay in a groove," Brown said. "They don't have to sit there and wait for him (to call a pitch). They get the ball and pitch."

McDermond, who was also an All-State defensive end for the Jackets' football team, will continue his baseball career at Tennessee Wesleyan. The decision between football and baseball wasn't tough for him.

"Football has been a lot of fun playing," McDermond said. "But I've played baseball longer and I have a better shot at playing baseball."

Tennessee Wesleyan is among the top National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools in the country. They are currently ranked No. 4 in NAIA region 12.

McDermond chose Tennessee Wesleyan over Darton and Lagrange Community Colleges because he wanted to face better competition.

Brown isn't surprised McDermond wants toougher competition and believes his career will flourish at the collegeiate level.

"He's going to do real good," Brown said. "He's going to get bigger and stronger because he has a great work ethic."

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