Austin Dennis brought a versatility to Rockledge High any baseball coach would covet.
“It’s the skill set, that he goes 100 percent all the time and has that intellect,” Raiders coach Greg Clayborne said. “That combination is just deadly.”
Put it together to produce the FLORIDA TODAY 2015 Baseball Player of the Year.
Dennis hit .440, drove in 17 runs, stole 14 bases, walked 19 times and struck out just six times in 91 at bats. As a pitcher, he was 5-1, allowed seven earned runs in 40 innings, struck out 60 and walked 12. His earned run average was 1.23.
Not only was he one of the most versatile players in Brevard County, but he excelled at all of it. Rockledge benefited from his abilities at shortstop, lead-off and on the mound.
“That was the whole key with him,” Clayborne said. “We’re going to have to use three kids to replace him, and none of them are going to be as good as him. Whoever it is will not be as good as Austin was.”
Against Tampa Jesuit last spring, which Dennis called “definitely my best game of the year, and possibly the best game of my life,” he pitched a complete-game shutout, struck out 10 and hit a home run. In the postseason upset of Archbishop McCarthy the year before, he drove in the winning run and came on in relief to pitch two innings and collect the win.
2015 All-Space Coast Baseball
Clayborne was particularly complimentary of Dennis’ intellectual abilities as a student of the game.
“He’s going to be a great coach once his playing days are over, if that’s what he wants.”
Bearing that out is Dennis’ selection to the FACA Academic All-State team, the only choice from Brevard County.
And typical of Rockledge players, he was fundamentally strong.
“I came up through Rockledge Little League, and we had a lot of success,” he said. “I was coached by my dad, and we did fundamentals all the time.”
There is more baseball to play before any coaching career. Dennis is a freshman at Middle Tennessee, already making an impact in the program. In the Blue-White scrimmages to end the fall season, he is 8-of-14 at the plate.
High school sports | floridatoday.com/sports/high-school-sports/