Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the accomplishments of every area team’s senior class as their senior seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. It culminated in Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.’s Virtual Senior Night, which premiered Saturday. To view that video, visit www.thewetumpkaherald.com.
The seniors on the Wetumpka baseball team had very different paths to becoming leaders in the program but they certainly played a big role in uniting the team over the last two seasons and helped Wetumpka reach new heights.
Cody Amerson was already in the program when coach Michael Dismukes took over in 2017 but Seth Johnson and Gauge Parette transferred from different schools before the 2019 season. In the first year they all played together, Wetumpka won its first area title since 2008 and recorded consecutive winning seasons for the first time in seven years.
“The three seniors are going to have a lasting impact on how they went about business every day,” Wetumpka coach Michael Dismukes said. “They went to work and were great leaders on and off the field. They really carried our program to a new level the last two years.”
After that area title, Wetumpka lost six seniors, including five starters, but there was little doubt the team would be back and a lot of that had to do with the Class of 2020. The team finished the season with a 10-4 record and sat just outside the Class 6A top 10 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association rankings.
“They knew they had to take on a big role and they took it in stride,” Dismukes said. “They knew what needed to be done and they went to work. They weren’t rah-rah guys but they knew what to do and concentrated on their role to help the team. They were consistent in work ethic, attitude and just their approach to the team.”
Johnson played the biggest role of the seniors — and maybe of anyone in the program’s recent history. Johnson, who was named the 2019 Elmore County Player of the Year and received the 2020 Elmore County Silver Slugger honors, has signed to play baseball at Troy University, the first Division I-bound player during Dismukes’ tenure at Wetumpka.
“It’s good for anyone to sign a baseball scholarship and to go to Division I is very special,” Dismukes said. “These guys have now seen the work it takes to get that level. It raises the bar for our program and we are grateful to have a player in our program like that. He showed them how to do it. He never felt he was the best player on the team. He worked like the best player but never talked about it and that’s what was special about Seth.”
Amerson, a utility player for Wetumpka, was with the program longer than the other seniors and that extra experience helped him make an impact on his teammates even if he was not racking up the same stats as Johnson.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that he understood from day one what the plan was,” Dismukes said. “He jumped on board and never bucked the system. He bought in and other people saw that. They followed in his footsteps. That longevity is important. He always led in the right way.”
Parette moved in and played mostly JV as a junior. But he quickly refined his game to what Wetumpka needed and moved to the varsity squad. As a senior, Parette finished second on the team with 23 innings pitched and he posted a 2.36 ERA.
“When he arrived on campus, I knew he was going to be one of those guys we would look to for pitching,” Dismukes said. “He kept working on that and once he put to mind to helping us on the mound, he went to work. He didn’t quit and he never gave up. He was a team player from day one. Those are the type of kids you need in a program and that’s going to leave a lasting effect on the program.”