The play call came in just as clear and crisp as it always had. When the quarterback shouted 50-Z Splitter, it brought a smile to the receiver’s face. It was a play they’d worked on hundreds of times before and just as it always had, it went off without a hitch.
The only thing wrong with the setting on this day, perhaps, was that it was no longer 2009, and Alex Wise and Kyle Dickens were wearing baseball jerseys instead of football equipment.
Back in 2009, however, during Dickens’ junior and Wise’s sophomore year at Neosho High School, the duo hooked up countless times on that very play on the football field. The tandem wreaked havoc together on the football field. But now, some four years later, they’re trying to replicate that success on the baseball diamond.
Both multi-sport standouts at NHS, Wise and Dickens have crossed paths again this summer with the Joplin Outlaws, a collegiate wood-bat league summer team based at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin. Before a recent game, the pair grabbed the football and ran their favorite play multiple times in the yard.
“We’ve grown up playing together,” Wise said. “We had the football out here in the yard before the game tossing it around, bringing back the quarterback-wide receiver memories from my junior year, (Dickens’) senior year. I actually watched our junior year highlight video last night and saw some of those plays. It’s just fun to get to play together again.”
After going their separate ways in college, they’ve finally joined forces again with the Outlaws. So far their chemistry has been an asset to the Outlaws.
Dickens began his collegiate career at Crowder College in 2011 where he hit .307 with 26 RBIs, three home runs, six doubles eight stolen bases and 32 runs scored, before batting .295 with 44 RBIs, 55 runs, seven homers, a triple and 16 doubles with 13 stolen bases in 2012. Last season at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Dickens hit .282 with seven doubles, a triple, a homer and 14 RBIs despite playing in just 27 games while nursing a back injury.
He says he’ll transfer to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., next season.
“This past year wasn’t really the best fit for me,” Dickens said. “I’m actually transferring to Pitt State. I’m looking forward to Pitt State, for sure. Summer ball is getting me back into it, it’s going well.
“It’ll be close to home and I’ll (get) one more year at it,” he added. “I’m going to work hard and try to have a great season.”
Page 2 of 2 - Wise, meanwhile, found himself at home with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla., this season. There the freshman went off as he hit .391 with a .464 on base percentage and slugged .549 in 36 games. Wise finished with six doubles, three triples, three homers and 24 RBIs while stealing 30 bases for the Norsemen. He also saw action on the mound, where he struck out nine and walked two while surrendering one hit in five innings. Wise earned all-region honors for his performance.
After initially signing to continue his career at Oral Roberts University prior to last season, Wise said he has since rescinded that commitment and will return to NEO next season while reopening his recruitment options.
“It was a good year,” Wise said. “I would have liked to have had a better defensive year, but I hit the ball well.
Overall it was a pretty good year. It’s a tough conference we’re in. I saw a lot of good pitching that should help get me ready for the next level after next year. I’m hearing from some pretty good Division I schools that are interested.”
While both players admitted they’re not certain what next year will bring, they’re both preparing for their future. Dickens says he’s majoring in sports management with a minor in business administration. Wise, meanwhile, is majoring in business administration and accounting.
Both players expressed an interest in coaching when their playing days are done.
“I’d like to coach, but I don’t really have a clue right now,” Dickens said. “I’d like to coach somewhere, hopefully.”
Wise, making note of the fun they’re having together again, hinted at a joining of forces again some day.
“We could coach together,” he suggested.
The first play they’d pencil into their playbook? 50-Z Splitter.