2:04 PM, Apr 28, 2011   |    comments
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Earl Dupree has grown a lot this year as a student athlete for Hawkinsville High according to his baseball coach.

"This year the mental aspect of Earl's game has really picked up", says Coach Stephan McDuffie. "In the past if Earl got into a jam he would kind of go into his shell but this year after a year of playing football and having baseball under his belt he seems to have taken it up a notch."

In the fall Earl leads his football team as the signal caller for the Red Devils and as one of the boys of spring; he does the same on the diamond as his team's ace pitcher with an undefeated 9-0 record.

"Some guys get rattled when they are out there pitching", says Dupree. "The opposing team is loud in the dugout but I tune all that out because when I'm pitching I'm focused in sometimes I can't even hear the coaches, so I guess it can be a good thing to stay focused."

McDuffie agrees, "We vote each year for captains and this year we have four of them and the team voted Earl as one of our captains, so he is definitely a team leader."

In addition to that rifle arm, Dupree carries a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and also is involved in AP and Honors classes. So the motivation is more than just physical.

Dupree says, "Not only are grades important for your future and college and what not but you have to be smart out here on the field to know the plays and situations. Like I said God has blessed with a brain and the talent and I owe it all to him."

"It speaks wonders", echoes McDuffie. "You don't ever have to worry about his work in the classroom. He's going to do what he needs to do behavior wise and you know you can depend on him on the field."

When the pressure is on, Dupree wants the ball. Earlier this week in a must win game over region rival Schley County, the junior pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts giving up only one run.

Dupree makes it plain, "When the big game is on the line, I want the ball you know. Just like in football, I want to be in charge and take control

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