Former baseball star sentenced to five years

Bazzell is lead from court Wednesday after being sentenced to five years in prison.
By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

A 39-year-old Lowndes County man who once had a promising future as a major league baseball player and baseball coach is led to jail to serve a five-year prison sentence.

Shane Bazzell, whose professional career and arrest record have taken him to Oktibbeha and Clay counties, pleaded guilty in May to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. During a brief hearing Wednesday in Lowndes County Circuit Court, he was sentenced to five years as a habitual offender, meaning he’ll have to serve a longer portion of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

Bazzell said little during the hearing.

The five years was half the 10-year maximum for the crime. Other drug-related charges were retired earlier when he pleaded guilty.

The sentencing, which had been agreed upon in advance, was delayed from May so Bazzell could take part in a workman’s compensation case against the Texas Rangers and to allow a new state law to go into effect. That law allows a judge to sentence a habitual offender to less than the maximum for a crime.

The workman’s comp case was not mentioned during Wednesday’s hearing and no update is provided in Bazzell’s court. District Attorney Scott Colom said he did not know the status.

Bazzell is a habitual offender because he was convicted of prescription fraud in Chickasaw County on Jan. 25, 2010 as part of a widespread pill ring. He pleaded guilty in Lowndes County to grand larceny on May 20, 2011.

In the latest case, charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a stolen firearm were retired. Charges of stealing a truck in December and a grand larceny charge in Clay County also were retired.

The weapons possession charge stemmed from a May 1, 2017 incident at Steel Dynamics where he worked at the time. A security officer at the plant had recovered Canik model TP-9 9 mm handgun that belonged to Taylor Weathersby in Bazzell’s Chevrolet Z71 pickup. Weathersby worked at the plant.

After it was discovered, Bazzell managed to get it out of his truck and throw it on top of a piece of machinery inside the plant and then leave the scene, saying he had to go pick up a child at school. But Steel Dynamics employees located it and Bazzell later was arrested in the parking lot of a business on Highway 45 North in Columbus. That’s where the methamphetamine was found.

His Clay County troubles came when he was arrested in September by Clay County Sheriff’s investigators on burglary and grand larceny charges stemming from the burglary of a shed in the river area in eastern Clay County. At the time, Sheriff Eddie Scott said Bazzell was a suspect in a string of thefts around the county. He was free on $15,000 bond in the Lowndes County case when he was arrested on the Clay charges.

Bazzell is a New Hope native who led the Trojans to an undefeated season and state title and once had a promising pro baseball career before drugs got in the way.

Bazzell has had his chances.

He was arrested on Jan. 15, 2010 in Lowndes County and charged with grand larceny for stealing a four-wheeler.

At the time, he already had been indicted for prescription fraud in Chickasaw County in 2009 after an investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics found he'd gone to 13 doctors in Pontotoc, Chickasaw, Clay, Lowndes and other counties during a year to get Adderall prescriptions and obtain 11,070 pills illegally.

On Jan, 25, 2010, he was sentenced for the prescription fraud in Chickasaw County but avoided significant prison time.

On Feb. 23, 2011 he pleaded guilty to the grand larceny charge and on May 20, 2011, was sentenced to 10 years, all suspended to two years in an intensive supervision program. He was released from probation on Dec. 8, 2015.

Bazzell formerly played baseball for New Hope High School, and was drafted to MLB in the 16th round by the Oakland Athletics in 1998 and played for a variety of farm clubs. For just a matter of days, he was interim baseball coach at Starkville Academy when his world started crumbling in 2010. The school suspended and then terminated him. 

After being drafted 465th overall by the Athletics in 1998, he pitched nine seasons, seven in Oakland’s farm system and two in the Texas Rangers’ farm system.

He was a star baseball player at New Hope from 1993-98 and helped the Trojans win state titles in 1996 when the Trojans went 43-0 and in 1998.

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