Meet athletic outfielder Alex Lyon, “you can put me behind the plate or on the mound, I’ll compete anywhere”


Brian Munoz

Southern Illinois junior infielder Alex Lyon (2) prepares for a pitch Friday, March 23, 2018, during the University of California-Irvine Anteaters’ 6-2 victory against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Dillon Gilliland, Sports Reporter

From infield to outfield, contact to power, meet the Salukis’ newest jack-of-all-trades transfer, Alex Lyon.

Born in New York and raised in White House, Tennessee, Lyon was an athletic kid all his life as he picked up the ball and bat around the age of four.

The Tennessee native attended White House High School, where he played a variety of sports including basketball, football and baseball.


In high school, Lyon earned several awards including a three-time All-District honor in baseball and an All-State nod in football, despite only playing his senior year.

Lyon said it was his love for the game that made him dedicate his future to the sport of baseball.

“I’ve played baseball my entire life,” Lyon said. “I just wanted to focus on it.”

Lyon said his favorite memory from high school was dominating Sycamore High School, his school’s rival, in back-to-back baseball games when deciding which team would have the home field advantage in the district tournament.

“I can still remember my first at-bat during that game,” Lyon said. “It was a home run over our scoreboard. That was the best time of my life right there.”

The Saluki credits his dad for influencing him to play baseball.

“My dad just pounded baseball into my head every day,” Lyon said. “But he was my biggest fan and my best friend.”


Lyon’s dad coached him until the age of 12 when he passed away from colon cancer.

“I just try to stay positive,” Lyon said. “The main thing is I know he’s always up there watching me.”

Coming out of high school Lyon had several Division II and III colleges offer scholarships but he turned down the offers because of how far they were from his hometown.

Rather than go to a four-year college, Lyon chose to take the junior college route to Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee.

In his first year as a Pioneer, Lyon redshirted for a year of development. In his second year at the campus, Vol State hired Ryan Hunt as the new head coach of the baseball program, who instantly hit it off with Lyon.

“I loved him as a coach,” Lyon said. “He made me the player I am today.”

In Lyon’s two years as a Pioneer, he posted a career batting average of .356 and a slugging percentage of .560. He also had 106 hits, ten home runs, 59 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

Lyon said he was glad he chose a junior college and felt it prepared him more for the Division I level of college baseball.

“It helped me big time,” Lyon said. “It would have been a harder transition for me if I would have just came in as a freshman.”

After two seasons at Vol State, Lyon received offers from a few Division I schools including Belmont and Louisiana Monroe but chose SIU because he enjoyed Carbondale.

“I just fell in love with SIU,” Lyon said. “I loved the small-town feel to it.”

Since transferring to Southern, the junior’s teammates hit it off with him immediately.

“He’s a great guy,” senior shortstop Connor Kopach said. “Me and him became best friends right away. We even play Fortnite every night now.”

In his first year as a Saluki Lyon has posted solid numbers, as he is averaging .376 at the plate with a slugging percentage of .553 at the time of writing.

The JUCO transfer has already netted 32 hits along with seven doubles, two home runs, 23 RBI and 12 stolen bases — second in the conference.

“I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball really well,” Lyon said. “When I first started the game seemed so fast to me, but once I slowed it down it became really easy for me.”

Earlier in the season, Lyon earned Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week honors but feels that he has been jinxed since that moment as he not played at the same level since.

“I haven’t performed as good as I wanted since that week,” Lyon said. “I’m just trying to get back in my groove.”

Lyon said his only goal is to be a reliable teammate and win the MVC title.

Coming into his first season at SIU, Lyon had never played in the outfield and spent most of his time at shortstop and second base, but said it did not bother him to try a new position.

“I’m just glad I’m in the lineup every day,” Lyon said. “I’ll play anywhere. You can put me behind the plate or on the mound, I’ll compete anywhere.”

Head coach Ken Henderson said Lyon is beyond athletic and he is a natural when it comes to baseball.

“His makeup is just off the charts,” Henderson said. “He is a tough son of a bitch and he shows up to kick your butt every day.”

The left fielder is currently listed as a University Studies major, but said he does not know what he will do with his major yet. He did say, however, that a career in coaching would be of interest.

Above all, Lyon said he is thankful was given an opportunity to play.

“I just want to thank my coaches for giving me an opportunity to play,” Lyon said. “They’ve pushed me to be the player I am now.”

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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