Meridian Star

June 20, 2013

Homesick Spikes ready for opener

Sarah Moomaw
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The Meridian Spikes have spent their entire inaugural season on the road due the wild weather of the last few weeks, meaning they have yet to play at their home field of Southeast Lauderdale.

    Assuming dry weather, a doubleheader on Saturday will break in the park.

    "I hope we have a big crowd that comes out," center fielder Terrance Steele said. "I hope we can pull out two big wins at home. It's just going to be good playing closer to home finally."

    The inaugural season is the brain child of owner Mark Davis, who was born in Meridian, but grew up in Stonewall. He saw an opportunity and acted on it, as did many of the players.

    Summer baseball gives college athletes a chance to team up with childhood friends or regular season foes. For those transitioning to bigger programs, its a good step to getting use to constantly changing faces.

    "It's a good opportunity to meet guys that they actually play against during the [regular] season," Meridian Spikes coach Colton Mitchell said. "They get to meet them and build relationships, gets them able to build chemistry with new teams. A lot them are junior college guys and after this year they will be going off to four-year [schools] and be with whole new guys and will be able to build relationships quicker."

    Mitchell is looking to make a career of coaching, this coming at just the right time, after finishing his senior season at Delta State.  

    Coming off a 5-4 win to the Jackson Gems, last minute roster additions have paid off after losing their first three games.

    "I feel a lot better with our team and going in the direction we are with the guys we've gained," Mitchell said.

    One of those guys is Witt Haggard out of Meridian Community College, who recently committed to Delta State.

    He had an offer from a summer league in Virginia but decided against even before hearing about Deep South because of the distance.

    "I wanted to stay home for the summer, work a little bit and play around here," he said. "[Deep South] sounded more appealing to me."

    Steele and Haggard echoed each others thoughts that the summer league was a great way to stay sharp in preparing for next season. With the local names and hometowns on the rosters, it edges on some friendly competition.  

    "I think a lot of guys just know each other and they want to play their best against their boys," Haggard said. "Some guys are from the same hometowns, play on different junior college teams, playing against guys who they've been on the team with for the past year – they just like playing and showing them what they can do."