Meridian Star

Sports

January 25, 2014

ATKINSON: Baseball fixing to heat up

    I told many people during this past summer that we were going to have a bitterly cold winter and it is safe to say that was very accurate. We have experienced some of the coldest days as of late and it is hard to believe that I will be discussing the start of baseball season into my column today. I can remember the first couple of months of baseball season in our area being some of the coldest days and I hope that things will drastically change before next month.

    The 2014 Meridian Community College baseball season is about to begin no matter if it is cold or not. The Eagles will begin the season February 8 with a pair of road games in Raymond, MS against Mineral Area and Hinds. The first scheduled home games of the 2014 season will come February 12 as the Eagles will welcome Jones County Junior College to Scaggs Field for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.

    If you have had the opportunity to read my column on a weekly basis, you know how much I love baseball here at Meridian Community College. I grew up on watching the sport here on campus over 20 years ago when Corky Palmer and Scott Berry were getting the program on the national  map. A lot of things have changed over the years with our baseball program at MCC, but the tradition will always be there.

    The biggest change for the program will come at the conclusion of the 2014 season and many local fans will want to keep this in mind for the future. This will be the final season for our baseball team to compete in the Miss-Lou Conference with Delgado and Baton Rouge. I remember when MCC first competed in the Miss-Lou Conference around 1988 and the Eagles competed in this particular conference until 2002. MCC won 10 Miss-Lou Conference titles during that span and of course the other championship years belonged to Delgado.

    MCC entered into the MACJC in 2003 and enjoyed a great deal of success by winning six Central Division crowns, three MACJC State Championships, two Region 23 Championships, and two trips to the Junior College World Series. MCC came back to the Miss-Lou Conference in 2009 and have won two conference titles and one Region 23 Championship since rejoining the league. It will be sad to see the three-team conference end this season, but we can all say it is safe to say that many memories were made between the teams. The rivalry between MCC and Delgado is where most of the memories were made over the years, but there were many memorable performances in postseason play as well to treasure.

    MCC and Delgado will meet at Scaggs Field for the final time in a three-game series on April 5-6. The two teams could meet at Scaggs Field during postseason play if the Eagles can capture the Miss-Lou Conference regular season title. The winner of the regular season title will earn the right to host the Miss-Lou Tournament and the two teams could play a couple of more times in Meridian.

    The Eagles are looking to bounce back from a difficult 2013 season that saw MCC battle near impossible odds with injuries and many other obstacles to finish with only 19 wins. The Eagles will have a wealth of experience returning from its squad in 2013 and especially at the plate. Sophomore Paul Angel is the biggest bat in the lineup returning for the 2014 season after leading the team in several offensive categories last season. MCC will look to have contributions from other returning starters that include: Kevin Hall, Mac Seibert, Garrett LaRosa, and Ben Gann. MCC will also return its top pitcher from last season in Andrew Crook that should provide a great anchor at the top of the rotation.

    MCC will also bring in a great group of underclassman that should provide more depth for the team in 2014. Second-year head coach Dillon Sudduth also made some changes to the coaching staff during the offseason by welcoming former MCC player Justin Brewer back to campus to serve as pitching coach, while former USM star  Travis Creel will enter his first season on the staff for MCC.

    The feel for baseball might not be in the air yet, but it will be here very soon no matter what. I invite you to come out and support our team because there is no other atmosphere like MCC baseball at Scaggs Field.

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