Demopolis High School catcher R.J. Cox will continue his baseball career in Columbus, Miss. next season after committing to Mississippi University for Women. MUW is in the unique position of launching its athletic programs in 2017 as an exploratory member of NCAA Division III.
“That’s really exciting because I get to make my own path. I don’t have to go behind anybody else,” Cox said of the opportunity to be part of the inaugural MUW baseball squad. “I get to develop my own legacy and not be compared to anybody because there is nobody to compare me to.”
“I think it’s the same idea as what he was with us. They’re going to find out what they’re getting and the consistency they’re going to get with him,” Demopolis coach James Moody said of Cox’s appeal as a building block of a program. “He’s going to play at as high of a level as he’s capable of playing. He’s not going to be one of these that is going to be up and down. He’s going to work to be as good as he can be and he’s the kind of person that, if I were starting a team, I would look to build around.”
The Tigers’ starting backstop for the last three seasons and a four-year member of the varsity squad, Cox is batting .333 on the current campaign with 18 RBIs and has thrown out 10 baserunners.
“Consistency. High character. You know what you’re getting everyday with R.J. You’re getting the best he has and even a little more. He’s a great leader for the younger kids, a good role model for the younger kids,” Moody said. “I made the comment the other day in a game when he was blocking some balls up, I told our coaches we take that for granted but it’s a big part of what he is and what he’s about. That grit, that get down and get dirty, he’ll get a little nasty if he has to and you’ve got to have that.”
“They say that I’m probably going to catch mainly and maybe play a little third if they need me to play over there,” Cox said of his anticipated role with the Owls. “They made me an offer back in early January. I went on a visit in late January and I just fell in love with the place and it just went from there. I can go there and I can take one class a semester at Mississippi State. I can get farther along in my engineering degree. They’re sort of partners with Mississippi State. I can go there and take classes and still play ball at MUW. That’s a plus.”
Cox recently chose MUW over NAIA stalwart Faulkner University but decided long ago that he would pursue his first love, baseball, at the collegiate level rather than his second sport, football.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always had a love for it. I just fell in love with the game when I was younger through my grandfathers just teaching me the game and taking me to Braves games and Auburn and Alabama baseball games,” Cox, a standout linebacker for the Tiger football team, said.
“Anytime you have players sign at the next level, it brands your program. It makes people aware, even more so, of Demopolis baseball,” Moody added. “Certainly, when you’re sending people of the quality and character of R.J., it makes them want to come back here and look for some more of those kids.”