• Mariah Reeve

Emerson Hancock: from Cairo High to UGA

Eighteen-year-old Emerson Hancock is a former student at Cairo High School (Class of 2017) who now plays baseball as a starting pitcher for University of Georgia. He's having a great season as a freshman and has quickly become the "Saturday night" (No. 2) starter for the team.

According to the UGA athletics website, during high school, Hancock was one of Cairo's top 10 students academically. On the diamond, he led his team to a 23-6 mark and batted .391 with seven doubles, one home run, and 31 RBI as a senior. That year, he was named Player of the Year by the Thomasville Times-Enterprise after going 11-1 with a 0.75 ERA, 125 strikeouts, and only eight walks in 65 innings. In 2017, his team won their second region title in the school's history.

While being a part of the Cairo Syrupmaker Baseball team, he played for Steve DeVoursney, Chris Weaton, and Ron Best.

“Emerson has really matured over the last three years,” Ron Best said when Hancock committed to UGA. “He had a fantastic junior year. He’s increased his velocity on his fastball. That gets people's attention when you break that 90 mph mark,” according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

"I've been a Georgia fan all my life," Hancock said. "It's been my dream to play there. We haven't won region here in a while and I really want to do that. It would really be a good thing to leave the school with, to make a run at the playoffs and go as far as we can. We have the team to do it."

According to (the UGA student newspaper) the Red and Black, before his first game at UGA, Hancock knelt to the ground. He drew a cross and wrote "Ruth" underneath for his grandmother Martha Ruth Elkins, who passed away in October of 2016. Throughout his senior year, he drew out the cross and played with his whole heart in honor of his grandmother.

On Friday, March 30, 2018, Hancock suffered an injury in a win against Texas A&M at UGA's home stadium, Foley Field. Midway through a 3-0 pitch to hitter Hunter Coleman, Hancock fell forward as his pitch sailed to walk Coleman. After laying out on the mound, he got up in pain attempting to walk around the pitcher's mound. Head coach Scott Stricklin at first thought he had hyperextended his knee, as he has done before in practice, but MRIs later showed no damage to his knee. He had instead simply bruised his ankle, according to the Red and Black. He returned from the injury last Saturday, April 7, against Vanderbilt.

Besides the injury, Hancock has been having a great season for the Bulldogs baseball team and has earned himself the No. 2 or "Saturday Night" starting pitcher spot. In eight starts over 42 innings, he currently has a 3.80 ERA, 42 strikeouts (an average of one per inning), and a 3-2 record. He has also pitched more innings than any other player on the team, and opposing players are only batting .218 against him.

In speaking to Cairo High's Red and Black, Steve DeVoursney stated that the first time he saw Hancock practice was the point at which Hancock appeared to be special. It was the way he carried himself, his interactions with teammates, and his determination to get better every play which set him apart, according to the coach. DeVoursney described that on the field, Hancock is a competitor, but off the field, Hancock is detail-oriented and focuses on those details to get better as a player. He also stated that Hancock is a very aggressive pitcher and that he tries to keep batters off balance with every pitch.

Coach DeVoursney believes that Hancock can make it to the big leagues. Hancock and his former coach still keep in contact; they talk more about what he does differently in the off-season in terms of training and nutrition to better himself as a player ever since he has started at UGA.

Remembering "With Pride We do Our Best," Hancock is representing the Syrupmakers wherever he goes.