FORT WALTON BEACH — There aren’t many high school pitchers who throw a curveball.


It’s arguably the most difficult pitch to master, but Choctaw senior Josh Thomson started learning early. Now he and Uncle Charlie are cashing in, Thomson signing a National Letter of Intent this past week to pitch for Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama.


“It feels great,” Thomson said. “God has given me a lot, and this is just one other thing that shows his glory. Hopefully I can be successful at the next level and see where I go from there.”


Thomson and the Cougars first got in touch this past summer. Former Indians coach Ryan Lanpher helped Thomson earn a spot in the Top 100 College Prospect Series showcase at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. From there, Thomson cracked the top 20 and was invited to play at a second showcase in Troy.


“From Troy, I was playing on Team Florida and that’s when the college saw me and contacted me,” Thomson said.


A visit to Birmingham followed shortly thereafter in late July. Thomson loved it.


“When I went up there, the coach, who I really liked, he seemed like a pretty genuine dude,” he said. “I felt like God was really telling me to go to Birmingham. I have one of my good buddies going up there as well, so we’ll be able to stay in touch with each other. It’s really good program for a junior college.”


And the school will allow Thomson to pursue both of his dreams: He wants to play Division I baseball and study criminology.


“I’ve always wanted to catch bad guys,” he said.


In Thomson, the Cougars are getting a pitcher who was dominating his senior season before the COVID-19 pandemic cut it short. In 12 1/3 innings, Thomson had allowed just three earned runs with 18 strikeouts and boasted a team-best 1.70 ERA.


His fastball tops out at 87 mph, while his devastating knuckler drops in at 68 mph, the two pitches constantly keeping opposing batters off balance.


“I’ve been throwing (the knuckleball) since I could play baseball,” Thomson said. “I used to live in Jacksonville and one of my coaches was like, ‘Why don’t you try this?’ He was a college and former minor leaguer. He was like, ‘Just throw it in the air, see how it does and when you watch it come down, it’ll move all sorts of ways.’”


Thomson said he hopes his arsenal and his dedication in the classroom help him achieve his dreams.


“Well, I always strive to get good grades in school no matter how baseball or anything around me is going,” he said. “My goals are just to get to the next level, so after JUCO, go to a D1 hopefully, then maybe a minor league team will pick me up or something like that. I’m just gonna do what God wants me to do.


“That’s all I can really hope for.”