PIEDMONT — Brant Deerman and Bryce Mohon have been friends and teammates since they played junior high baseball at Jacksonville.
They transferred to Piedmont together as sophomores for the 2017-18 school year. As seniors this season, they were mainstays on Piedmont’s team that finished the pandemic-shortened season 15-0.
Mohon was named Calhoun County baseball tournament MVP after tossing a complete game three-hitter in Piedmont’s 6-1 win over Alexandria in the tournament’s championship game. Deerman had two hits against the Cubs and was named the tournament’s outstanding offensive player. Their friendship will continue but they will no longer be teammates when the next baseball season opens in 2021.
Friday morning, in a joint signing ceremony attended only by immediate family members, Deerman committed to a baseball scholarship at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Mohon did the same with a baseball scholarship offer from Snead State Community College.
“We’ve been buddies since seventh grade,” Mohon said.
Deerman recalled that Mohon moved to Jacksonville in the fourth or fifth grade but they were never together in the same class.
“In seventh grade, when we finally ended up on the same team, we kind of clicked right off the bat. Ever since then, we’ve been real close,” Deerman said.
For the next two years, they’ll be in opposing dugouts.
“It’s going to be a little weird whenever Snead plays Chatt Valley and I see him over there in the dugout,” Mohon said.
Next year, it will be even weirder because Bryce’s older brother, Mason Mohon, will be in his second season playing at Southern Union in Wadley. Even more bragging rights could be at stake. Deerman has already checked and Chattahoochee Valley’s schedule for 2021 includes both Snead and Southern Union.
“We’re supposed to play both of them so we’ll see how that turns out,” he said with a chuckle.
Deerman worked out for three other junior college programs then found that Chattahoochee Valley “felt right.”
“The way the coaches talked to me, it just felt a lot like Piedmont. That’s what I want to be around,” Deerman said.
In the field, he’s most comfortable at second base. At the plate, he knows he doesn’t need to lead off.
“I like to go and hit that first pitch and a leadoff batter is supposed to battle and have long at-bats,” Deerman said. “I like to go after those early pitches.”
Deerman hit .478 in 2020. Ten of his 22 hits went for extra bases — eight doubles, one triple and one home run — yet he struck out just once. He had 19 RBIs and scored a team-high 27 runs.
Mohon will pitch for Parsons head coach Casey Underwood.
“I’ve always loved pitching. That’s my favorite part of baseball. … It’s very competitive when I’m up there on the mound,” he said.
He was 4-0 with one save in seven appearances for the Bulldogs in 2020. In 25⅓ innings he struck out 33, walked seven and had a 1.74 ERA. As solid as those numbers are, the 5-foot-10 and 140-pound Mohon had no offers when he threw a bullpen session at Excel Baseball Academy in Oxford just before the COVID-19 outbreak ended spring sports in Alabama.
Before the season started, his velocity had been 84 miles per hour at Excel and 83 on Piedmont’s radar gun. His mid-March visit at Excel started at 86. After that, he was consistently at 87 and 88 and hit 89 three times.
“I had no idea I could do that, no idea. … Definitely, when I started throwing ’pens this season it felt a little harder but I didn’t think it was that hard,” Mohon said.
When word got out, Mohon suddenly had plenty of offers. He said he settled on Snead because of Underwood.
“After I talked to the coach I really liked him. The way he was talking to me, he really likes me and wants me,” Mohon said.
Mohon and Deerman share a sense of disappointment in ending their high school careers without an opportunity to compete for a state championship in baseball to go with the one they helped Piedmont earn in football in December and a feeling of gratitude for the chance to continue playing.
“I didn’t want to go out that way,” Deerman said. “Me and Bryce were kind of in the same boat. We wanted to show people that we were good enough to play at that next level.”
Mohon said ending his baseball career on an unfinished high school season “wouldn’t have been easy.”
“That would have been tough if I had gotten the plug pulled like that only playing 15 games my senior season,” Mohon said.