Hardin taking his talents to ECCC

Hardin taking his talents to ECCC


R.B. Hardin, a standout varsity catcher for Neshoba Central, is set to continue his baseball journey at East Central Community College after graduating in May. 

His parents are Donald “Mutt” and Brookes Hardin of Philadelphia.

A highly sought-after prospect, Hardin received offers from several community colleges, including East Mississippi, East Central, Itawamba, Holmes, and Meridian. 

Hardin’s high school stats are impressive as he racked up a .357 batting average, .494 on-base percentage, and .584 slugging percentage during his last three seasons.

He accumulated 69 RBIs, 52 singles, 16 doubles, eight triples, and seven home runs. He recorded 96 hits and only 26 strikeouts in 232 at-bats, with a 34.45% caught stealing percentage as a catcher.

“I’m hardworking, determined, and not too flashy,” Hardin said. “I’m confident, but you still have to remain humble.”

One of Hardin’s favorite memories from Neshoba Central was beating Saltillo in the 5A North State Championship series in 2022, advancing to the State Championship. 

In the sixth inning of game three, Hardin tied the score with a hit, driving in Reid Hall from second base. Rhett Stovall then secured the walk-off win with a bases-loaded suicide squeeze in the seventh. 

“That was a pretty awesome moment,” Hardin recalled.

In his senior season, Hardin earned numerous accolades, including 6A First Team All-State Catcher, First Team All-District Catcher, MVP for Neshoba Central, and the MHSAA Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star Game selection. 

“If you put in enough work, it will happen eventually, but you can’t be worried about the awards,” he said.

Playing in the All-Star Game was a highlight for Hardin. He faced pitchers throwing in the 90s and played against top talent. 

“It was fun competing against Division 1 signees,” he said.

Hardin was also named the Champion of Character for Neshoba Central by the East Central Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

“Baseball is a game of failure, and so is life,” he said. “You have to do what you can with what you have, believe in yourself, and believe in the Lord.”

Hardin attributes his high school success to perseverance and toughness. He credits Head Coach Jonathon Jones with teaching him life lessons like becoming a man and hitting coach Bryan Frichter with refining his skills in every aspect of the game.

At ECCC, Hardin plans to complete his basic classes before pursuing a degree in Kinesiology. On the diamond, he aims to become a starter, progress as a player, and eventually sign with a Division 1 school. 

“I’ve always been a Mississippi State fan,” he said. “But I’d like to play in the SEC or any strong baseball conference.”

Hardin said he is prepared for the challenges of college baseball and will focus on throwing, adjusting to the speed of the game, and studying more. 

“The priority of a student athlete is academics first, then baseball,” he said.

Hardin said he also looks forward to the camaraderie and competition at ECCC and the “brotherly love” on the team. 

“Everybody wants to play out there and compete against each other,” he said. “It just makes it fun and a grind.”

A dream of Hardin’s is to be drafted out of ECCC, following in the footsteps of Miami Marlins shortstop Tim Anderson. 

“I really just want to reach the next level and keep improving,” he said. “I’m trying to bring everything I can to the table, whether that’s hitting, catching, or playing somewhere else in the field. I want to be a selfless teammate and do whatever I can to get the win for the team.”

Hardin’s advice to young players is to work hard, be good teammates, ignore negativity, and keep faith in the Lord. 

Other notable high school awards for Hardin include NC Baseball Most Valuable Offense 2024, Neshoba Central 12th Grade March Student of the Month, Neshoba Central Citizenship Award (2021-2024), NC Baseball Most Valuable Defender 2023, First Team All-District 2023, Second Team All-State 2022, The Meridian Star Primer Preps Baseball Team 2022, NC Baseball Relentless Award 2021, and selections for the State Games of MS All-Star Baseball Games in 2022 and 2023.

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