Silento SaylesAs a youngster,
used to take part in family races, even chasing horses when he ran out of relatives.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior from Port Gibson (Miss.)
put his speed to great use this spring by stealing a national-record 103 bases - including 12 in a single game. The previous season record was 96 by Vicente Rosario of George Washington (New York, N.Y.) in 1996. The one-game mark was 11 by Eddie Martinez of Calvary Baptist (La Verne, Calif.) in 1977.
The talented shortstop/center fielder told Rod Walker of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "I really didn't set any goals. I just wanted to go out there and get as many as I could get. I am from the country, so when I was younger I would always run a lot. I didn't really work on being fast. It just happened. We would have races at family reunions. And I would chase horses all the time."
Asked about his base-stealing technique, he explained, "I would say the main thing is just timing the pitcher. I don't just go on the first pitch. I try to get the pitcher's timing down and take off."
Sayles averaged 3.5 steals per game this year, including seven in his career finale. He stole home six times and - probably the most incredible statistic of all - he was thrown out just once.
If there are any doubters, coach Dan Smith says simply, "The only thing I can think to tell them is to come watch him play. Get a clock because the stopwatch doesn't lie."
That stopwatch says Sayles can get from home plate to first base in a blazing 3.8 seconds.
However, he can do a lot more than run. Being called a five-tool player by one coach, Sayles batted a lofty .543 this spring with three doubles, two triples and an inside-the-park home run.
He also played football and basketball for the Blue Waves.
Though he has signed with Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, Sayles could be chosen in the Major League Draft. Cleveland and Kansas City had scouts at his final game.
The confident speedster told Walker that he already has an eye on the professional record of 155 stolen bases by Billy Hamilton.