Meridian Star

Sports

June 10, 2014

Newton Co., NEL shortened by rain

MERIDIAN — An early start time only delayed the inevitable in a summer league baseball game between Newton County and Northeast Lauderdale high schools.

In anticipation of stormy weather, the two teams bumped their start time up to 6:30 p.m. Monday, but they only managed to get five innings in before the rain started to pour and the lightning began to flash.

The Trojans got the best of the shortened game with a 7-0 win, and head coach Josh Snider said he was happy to see his team get a win despite the wet weather.

“Summer ball is mainly to see what you have and see what you can do,” Snider said. “On the other hand, we want to win. We’re trying to change the culture around here, and I think we proved that last year. Anytime we have a chance to win a ball game, we want to win it, but we are experimenting and seeing what some young guys can do.”

Kyle Fuller had a multi-hit game for the Trojans and scored their first run of the game, and Andrew White had an RBI for Northeast. Tyler Stevens hit a two-out RBI double, and Dalton Rogers drew a bases-loaded walk to score Devin Sisson late in the game.

Like Snider, Newton County coach Matt Boone said summer ball was a chance to help prepare the players for next season.

“You’re really just trying to develop guys, basically,” Boone said. “You want guys to get in and get a lot of at-bats and a lot of playing time and innings pitched, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re just looking for different guys who can do different things.”

Newton County loses four seniors off a team that went several rounds deep into the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs this past spring, and Boone said the team would be looking for guys who can fill those slots during the summer games.

“We’ve struggled a little bit,” Boone said. “We haven’t had our full team here yet. We’ve struggled throwing strikes and hitting at times consistently. So far, it hasn’t been very good, but we still have three weeks left.”

And Boone didn’t mince words when he talked about the expectations for next year’s squad.

“I expect us to compete in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s every year at Newton County, and I don’t expect anything different. I think the guys and coaches know that, and it doesn’t matter (what players) you lose.”

Northeast is coming off a first-round berth in the Class 4A playoffs, but Snider said he isn’t satisfied with one-and-done in the postseason — and he hopes his players aren’t either.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we can get back in those playoffs,” he said. “We got in there this year, and it was the first time probably 90 percent of our guys were in the playoffs. It was a little shocker to them, and getting put out in the first round left us hungry. We want to fight our tails off, get back in there and make a run in that thing.”

Snider will enter his second season as head coach in 2015, and he said summer ball goes a long way in helping change the culture around his team.

“Anytime you win a ball game, that’s confidence,” Snider said. “When you struggle for a few years and you start winning, it becomes nature. That’s what we want. We want to go out and expect to win every time we step on the field. Are we there yet? No, but we’re getting there.”

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