Prep baseball ranked among top in nation

Prep baseball ranked among top in nation


Six state championships in a row. One for every year he’s been a head coach at Jackson Prep. Tupelo native Brent Heavener just keeps reloading his talented roster. This year looks to be more of the same as the team is off to an 8-0 start (at press time) and is looking to add to the trophy case come May.

“When we won our sixth in a row last year, that’s the first time it’s ever been done in Mississippi,” Coach Heavener said. “It’s fun to watch these kids. They don’t want to be the team to lose it. They come hard to work every day and they say in the locker room all the time, ‘we’re chasing seven’ but that doesn’t happen till May. We’re going to take it a day at a time but we’re excited about this year.”

Before taking over the head coaching reigns, Heavener was Prep’s assistant coach for four seasons. His baseball background goes back to high school where the first and third baseman was a two-sport player. He then played baseball at Itawamba Community College and won a State Championship as a freshman and then his sophomore team held the #1 ranking for five weeks winning 45 games but lost in the regional. He then took his talents to Mississippi College. 

“Out of that sophomore class, 12 played in college and two were drafted,” Coach Heavener said. 

His coaching career also includes a stop at Freed Hardeman for seven years. Then a year at Mobile, Alabama as a head coach and posted a 25-10-1 record and state semi-finals. He came to Prep as an assistant for four years before moving over to the head coach position where he’s now racked up a head coaching record of 229-56. The secret to the team’s success? Hard work, dedication and a commitment to fundamentals.

“People ask me all of the time what do you do? You just get the kids believing and be playing your best baseball in May every year,” Coach Heavener said. “The thing I learned in all those stops was to work hard and try to be your best when you’re supposed to be at the end of the season. We’re not asking these kids to be perfect but to keep getting better.”

And it’s not a soft schedule either. Coach Heavener beats the bushes to try and schedule the best teams around. He’s even reached out to the higher level public schools but those matchups haven’t materialized yet. 

“Madison Central and us can’t play. Northwest and us can’t play. I call every year,” he said. “I think the metro area has the best baseball in Mississippi. We’re trying to play the best talent we can. Kirk Academy is coming down. We’re trying to build off of that.”

Jackson Prep is ranked #22 in the country by Perfect Game. In Mississippi, the Patriots are #2 and #3 depending on what poll you look at in the state that ranks both public and private schools together. 

This year’s team includes the #1 high school prospect in the country in Connor Griffin who is an LSU commit.

“He’s our leader and he makes us go. He’s 2-0 on the mound, hitting .600 and has 11 stolen bases. We have 15 kids playing college baseball right now from the last five years at Prep. That’s the thing that helps us the most. The kids don’t come here thinking, ‘hey, I just want to play high school baseball.’ They’re thinking, ‘I want to get to the next level.’ We’re trying to teach them, ‘hey, let us teach you and if you work hard then everything comes together.’ The program at Prep is good and you’re getting to the next level. And half of our team play on elite level teams over the summer including the Northwoods League.”

Other players on the team this year include John Woods, a senior pitcher is headed to Hinds Community College. Third baseman Trey Bryant, the three-hole hitter and Gardner Young, a left-handed pitcher throwing 88 mph, are both juniors. 

“Kevin Roberts is another kid that Perfect Game has ranked. He’s #1 in his 2026 class. He plays basketball and he’s a big arm, 6-foot, 4-inches throwing 94 or 95,” Coach Heavener said. 

Most of the team members play multiple sports at Prep including basketball and football. And Coach Heavener is an assistant for the football team as well. 

“We want to create that. 20 of our 30 players play football and we have three that are playing basketball,” he said. “I was a two-sport guy in high school in baseball and football. That culture is still there. We are still a small enough school where, hey, man, play multiple sports. You only get one shot at high school, so go have fun and if something happens, you have your education to lean back on.”

Coach Heavener has tryouts in June each year and normally carries 25 players but has been up to 30 on the roster the past few years.

“We have an eighth grade team, a ninth grade team and then JV/Varsity,” he said. “I have great assistants – Jay Powell who played in the pros and our new famous coach is Matt Bryant who kicked for the (Atlanta) Falcons.” 

His assistants include Chris Maloney and Marcus Canoy as well. 

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Looking for that lucky number seven state title but Prep takes is one day at a time, one game at a time, one win at a time and moving up to the next level of play. Oh, and he might need a new trophy case come May as well. 

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