This story is part of a series recognizing the top high school athletes in Barren County for the 2018-19 school year as chosen by the Glasgow Daily Times.
Whenever Justin Combs was on the mound for the Trojans, there was a good chance an opposing hitter would be struck out, and he is the 2018-19 CPC Commodities’ Baseball Athlete of the Year, as chosen by the Glasgow Daily Times.
Last season as a senior, Combs collected 88 strikeouts in 57 innings while allowing 39 hits, 30 runs and 22 walks with a 2.09 ERA.
The left-handed pitcher also made an impact for Barren County with a bat in his hand. Combs led the team with 25 hits — tied with fellow senior Trevor Moore — while tallying 11 runs, 16 RBIs, seven doubles, one home run and seven walks.
Trojan baseball coach Blake Crabtree said Combs has had “a really good career here at Barren County.”
“He’s thrown a lot of district games for us,” Crabtree said. “He’s had a great career — and as far as coaching staff — we wish him nothing but the best.”
Combs not only received praise from his own coach, but also from other managers in the 15th District.
When the Trojans faced crosstown rival Glasgow on the road, Combs struck out eight Scottie batters.
“Justin Combs threw a beautiful baseball game, without question,” Glasgow coach Sam Royse said after the game. “Barren played a very good baseball game behind a really good pitcher.”
After the Trojans hosted Allen County-Scottsville, Patriot coach Scott Stamper said they had seen Combs enough times to know how dangerous he can be on the mound.
“He’s a quality high school pitcher,” Stamper said. “Got a chance to pitch at the college level. So we just want to try to get in the box and compete against him.”
While the Trojan pitcher could strike out hitters, he also proved that he can be efficient on the mound.
Against Monroe County at home, Combs struck out 15 Falcon batters while throwing less than 90 pitches.
“To me, that’s a quality outing,” Crabtree said after the game. “We had talked a lot about being aggressive while he’s out there on the mound instead of working too much and throwing too many pitches.”
Toward the end of the regular season, Combs signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Roane State.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Combs said before his signing ceremony. “You dream about it as a kid, but you really don’t think it’s going to happen … and then it really does. It’s hard to think about. It’s really cool.”
The future Raider said Roane State just felt like home.
“It’s a little school,” Combs said. “So I’m going to enjoy that a lot.
“It’s going to be pretty fun. It felt like family as soon as I got down there.”
During the signing ceremony, Barren County Athletic Director Warren Cunningham said everyone is “very excited for this opportunity for him and his family.”
“Very proud of his accomplishments and all the things that he’s helped our baseball program do over the past few years,” Cunningham said. “He’s been a big part of the success that we’ve had over the last few years, and very proud of him and appreciate the time and effort that he’s put into our baseball program.
“This is a big day for him, a big day for his family, and we’re all very proud of him.”
Combs said his Trojan teammates have really meant a lot to him.
“They’ve supported me through everything,” Combs said. “Even if I have a bad game — they’ll be there and just talk me up.”
When asked what advice he would give to young baseball players, Combs said to “just work as hard as you can” and “never give up.”
The left-handed pitcher started playing baseball when he was 4, and said he decided to become a pitcher around the time he finished playing coach-pitch baseball.
“I started throwing a lot with my dad,” Combs said. “I enjoyed it. It was the best thing I thought to do on the field.”
When asked who has made the biggest impact on his game, Combs said his father, Greg.
“He helped me the most.”
Greg Combs spoke highly of his son’s continuous work ethic.
“Ever since he was 4 years old, he’s put in work,” Greg said. “His work ethic never stops, and that’s what I love the most about him. That’s all I can ask for as a parent. My kids work hard and do the best that they can do.”