By Taylor Ivy
On July 13, 2005, the cell phone of one of four young men rang. An officer at the scene of the accident told the person in Batesville on the other line they had been involved in a serious automobile accident on their way to the waterpark in Philadelphia. They had been airlifted to either the Jackson hospital or taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
With that information, the phone chain for Tyler Benson, Jonathan Ware, Brandon Taylor and Monroe Harrison’s mobilized Panola County that day.
As reports of the accident victims filtered throughout the next few weeks, there were a few times families were told some of the young men had limited time left on earth.
Sunday, all four will graduate from South Panola High School.
Benson had been told because of the extensiveness of his injuries that he would never play baseball again.
He will graduate with honors and received a Leadership Scholarship from Northwest Community College, He will also play baseball for the Rangers.
Benson never missed a beat playing baseball for South Panola. He and Harrison came back in the spring of 2006 and started the first game of the season on the then new baseball field and made game changing plays against Grenada that cold, blustery day which resulted in a win for the Tigers.
On June 7, he will play baseball for the North Half in the All Star Game. He looks forward to playing in the game, which will be coached by South Panola’s Coach Patrick Robey.
At South Panola, Benson played shortstop and second base. Based on selection with competition from every team and every player in the North Half, he was the only player chosen from South Panola’s baseball team.
Benson’s dedication to baseball, however, goes deeper than just attending practice and playing well in games
A player since the age of five, Benson was determined that he would play his favorite sport. With help from his coach and his team, he was playing again last season. This season, his skills have earned him a spot on the All Star team and on the Northwest baseball team, where he plans to attend next year and major in engineering. He will be signing with Northwest sometime in the next two weeks. “I just always told myself I would play again,” he says.
In addition to playing baseball, Benson likes to hunt, fish and spend time with his friends. He says that Coach Robey has helped him a lot, and not just in perfecting his baseball skills.
“He’s helped get my name out there and get other coaches to notice me,” he says, “He’ll get on to you, but I always know it helps me out.”
Benson plans to spend his time until school starts in the fall playing summer baseball. “It’s fun,” he says, “And I guess I’m kinda good at it.”
Robey said Benson was the backbone of the Tiger team.
“I believe everyone in the dugout would agree with me,” Robey said. “He is such a leader by the way he carries himself on the field and in the classroom. He did everything first class.”
Benson hit a triple RBI on two strikes in the win over the No. 2 nationally-ranked Tupelo team back in April.
This season, Benson had a .404 batting average, four home runs, four triples, six doubles, and 16 RBIs. He was nine for 10 in stolen bases.
Robey said Benson is not a flashy person and will be sorely missed.
“Whatever he did, he did well like getting a base hit in the clutch,” Robey said. “He won games for us. We would not have had the success we had if it had not been for him.”
He is the son of Leigh Ann and Bubba Benson.
Harrison will also graduate with honors. Ware received numerous awards at awards day.
Though on the baseball team’s injured reserve list and still walking with a slight limp, Taylor received the David Bryan Courage Award, along with football player Justin Hardrick.