Louisiana authorities aren’t saying much about the weekend death of a Mississippi Delta Community College baseball player from Greenwood, other than that there is no sign of foul play.
Cole Whitfield, 21, died Saturday in West Monroe, Louisiana, where he had gone with two teammates after the Trojans lost a doubleheader in Clinton the day before to Mississippi College.
His mother, Stacy Whitfield, said her son died of a gunshot wound, but the family has been provided little information so far as to what happened. She said her son’s body was found at the home of one of the players, who is from West Monroe.
“I don’t know anything,” she said Monday. “I have not talked to anybody today who would know.”
Neither the sheriff’s department nor the coroner’s office in Ouachita Parish would provide the cause of death or other details.
“There’s no evidence of foul play, but we’re still investigating. That’s all I can tell you,” said Glenn Springfield, public information officer with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department.
Funeral services for Whitfield will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at North Greenwood Baptist Church, with visitation from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Greenwood Delta Funeral Home and from 9:30 a.m. until service time Wednesday at the church.
Dan Rives, the baseball coach at MDCC, said he met Sunday night on campus with members of the team for the first time since learning of Whitfield’s death.
“As you can imagine,” Rives said, “it was a very raw, emotional meeting where not a whole lot was said other than hugs and ‘I love you’s.”
A few years ago, Rives had unsuccessfully tried to recruit the third baseman while Whitfield was starring on the diamond at Pillow Academy. Whitfield initially opted for Hinds Community College instead and played there one year before a foot injury in 2018 required surgery and forced him to sit out most of his sophomore season.
He transferred this year to the school in Moorhead, where his coach said Whitfield was immediately embraced by the team.
“He was an outstanding human being, always had a smile on his face,” Rives said. “Even though he was only here a month and a half, he was very well liked and very well loved and well respected by his teammates and coaches. I don’t think he had an enemy on the team, and everyone genuinely liked being around him, regardless of where they came from.”
Whitfield had made the starting lineup for the Trojans and was batting third, meaning he was expected to be one of the leading offensive producers on the team. Against Mississippi College on Friday, Rives said, Whitfield “did really well, made some nice defensive plays, hit a couple of balls really hard.”
Pillow baseball coach Jud Thigpen said Whitfield was “not only a special athlete but a special kid. He really lifted up others around him. He was a great leader.”
At Pillow, Whitfield was a four-year starter and was selected three times to the All-Commonwealth Team as an infielder and as a pitcher. He received the school’s top baseball honor, the Louis Coleman Award, named for the former major-league pitcher who also graduated from Pillow.
Whitfield played soccer and football for the Mustangs at a high level as well. He made the All-Commonwealth Team as a quarterback his senior year while also playing outside linebacker and handling punting duties.
Thigpen said he kept in touch with his former player after Whitfield graduated in 2017. The two talked just a week before Whitfield’s death, Thigpen said, and Whitfield was excited about playing at MDCC. “He was talking about how he liked being closer to home and was really looking forward to it,” Thigpen said.
“He just looked good. You could tell he had been working out and running and getting back into the shape that he needed to be to play at that level.”
About a year ago, the sixth-year Mustang coach said, he called Whitfield to see if he had a trailer that the newly married Thigpen could borrow to move into a house he and his wife had purchased. Not only did Whitfield show up with the trailer, but he helped the couple tote everything.
“I tried to give him money,” Thigpen recalled. “He wouldn’t take it. He was just that kind of guy who would be there for you.”
Even though Whitfield’s time with the MDCC program ended tragically premature, he will not be forgotten, said Rives.
“He will always be a part of our program, whether now or 20 years from now. He’s always going to be a part of what we do and what we’ve already done. We’ll be forever grateful for the time that he was here.”
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.