The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Port Neches-Groves senior pitcher Logan Ashworth was not even born when the Thomas Jefferson Yellow Jackets won a state championship with future big leaguer Xavier Hernandez starring on the mound.
Ashworth will have plenty of time to hear the stories from 1983 from his future college coach at the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide are coached by Mitch Gaspard, the starting TJ second baseman on the title team.
Ashworth made official Monday his recent signing with the Crimson Tide and will bring some Southeast Texas flavor into the SEC.
Gaspard and his staff sent out the offer to Ashworth after the right-hander attended the Perfect Game Underclass Showcase held last December in Fort Myers, Fla. Ashworth impressed the coaches with a four-seam fastball up to 89 miles per hour, a good changup and an 11-5 breaking curveball.
“Pitching Coach Dax Norris saw him pitch in Florida and obviously Logan’s name popped up when we discussed the showcase,” Gaspard said. “I saw the school PN-G and knew there was a connection. It made recruiting Logan a little easier. The most important thing, though, is I really think he can come in here and pitch quickly.”
Ashworth, who was named to the 20-4A All-District first team team a year ago, was pleased Monday to have reinforcement that his hard work has finally paid off.
“This feels great,” Ashworth said. “I went to visit the school last Thanksgiving and it really felt like home. The coaches have an open door policy, so I really thought it was the best school for me. It is really great Coach Gaspard is from this area. That will be a great thing to talk about.”
Gaspard is in his fourth season at Alabama and has a 308-225 overall head coaching record.
The Crimson Tide were 35-28 a year ago and went 14-14 in SEC play. Alabama went 2-2 in the SEC Tournament with two losses to LSU who was ranked No. 2 at the time. The Tigers two wins were by a combined four runs, 3-0 and 3-2.
Another interesting Southeast Texas tie to last year’s SEC Tournament is Bridge City’s Cameron Dishon, who played against Alabama as a member of the Ole Miss baseball team. Dishon had a sacrifice hit in the Crimson Tide’s 7-5 win in 10 innings.
Alabama would end its season last year in the NCAA Regionals played in Tallahasee, Fla. after two loses to Troy.
“There are a lot of things to like about Logan,” Gaspard said. “The main thing is he truly can come in and help our pitching staff right away. Southeast Texas is not an area we usually recruit. I was excited. At the end of the day, we are all about trying to win baseball games. Logan can help us do that.”
First-year PN-G Coach Scott Carter has yet to be in the same uniform as Ashworth and was happy for the accomplishment.
“Logan is a great kid,” Carter said. “The SEC is certainly a new level of baseball from PN-G. Logan, from what I have seen, has the talent and work ethic to make his college coaches very pleased.”
Carter was also excited for all of Southeast Texas and the baseball players who come out of local high schools.
“It says a lot for our area,” Carter said. “Anytime any of our schools has a player go to a major conference it says a lot. We have quality players in this area.”
Gaspard said he hopes to now use his connections with Southeast Texas in the future.
“Maybe this will open the door to Southeast Texas here in Alabama,” Gaspard said. “When the conference added Texas A&M and Missouri, the SEC really started moving west. Players in my hometown area are now more interested in this conference. Logan is a great first player for me to sign from my old home.”
With his signing out the way, Ashworth can now concentrate on helping the Indians make noise this year in 20-4A. The Indians were eliminated last year in the area round by Georgetown.
“I have been working toward this goal for over seven years now,” Ashworth said. “I feel my work has paid off. It is just an awesome feeling to have this wrapped up.”
Ashworth said he plans to work on a business degree while at Alabama.