As recent Francis Howell graduate Nic Perkins looks back, there are two things that come strongly to mind when he recalls his time as a high school student-athlete – it boils down to classwork and sports.
The catcher and soon to be University of Mississippi Rebel sums it up this way: “It pretty much was classes, studying and preparing for classes and working hard in sports and trying to be the best in three sports (football, basketball and baseball) for four years.”
Nic’s hard-driving work ethic paid dividends on his personal player development and paid even bigger dividends for the Vikings as he helped the team reach a second-place finish in the Missouri Class 5 tournament in early June.
A strapping 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, Nic was strong with the bat through his senior season as he was among the area’s leaders in several hitting categories. He hit .483 in 40 games with 58 hits, 14 doubles, one triple and five home runs. He also knocked in 58 runs.
Nic’s last home run was perhaps the most important of his Howell career.
In the Class 5 semifinals against Vianney, he ripped one over the left field fence in the first inning and jump-started the Vikings to a 3-1 victory.
“Man, that was a laser-shot in that game and it really helped us get going against Vianney,” said Howell coach and Nic’s dad, Tony Perkins. “He had an amazing four-year career here. And to be able to put up the kinds of numbers he did – with everybody knowing what kind of player he was and them trying to pitch around him – was just really impressive.”
At the plate, Nic was dialed in, but he also stood out defensively and as a mentor for the team’s young hurlers.
“Our pitchers were inexperienced and it took them a little while to get used to pitching at this level,” Nic said, “But once they started to settle in and throw strikes, guys made plays behind them. We knew we were going to score at least a few runs a game, so once they settled in we were able to get on a roll and make it back to state.”
Tony said Nic played a major part in that success.
“Nic has had a big hand in our state runs last year and this year,” Tony said. “His offense was great, but what he does behind the plate is going to be hard to replace.
“He does a great job of getting people where they need to be and managing the game. I didn’t have to do much when he was back there.”
Beyond the game management, Nic also made life unbearable for opposing base runners with his cannon-like right arm firing bullet throws to second and third base.
He recorded 181 putouts and 27 assists during the Vikings’ state run.
“It got to the point that a lot of teams didn’t want to steal against us because they were afraid Nic would throw them out stealing,” Tony said.
Nic, who maintained a 3.4 grade point average his senior year, is attending summer school in Oxford, Mississippi, and looking forward to his freshman year at Ole Miss. He is hoping to be able to get on the field for the Rebels next spring.
“The big thing since I’ve been down here is the whole town wants us to get back to Omaha for the College World Series,” Nic said. “They (Mississippi) made it to the semifinals this year and I hope I can get in some playing time and help us get back there next year.”