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Young Eagles start Saturday

By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
Feb. 8, 2002
A new coach and a young team will mark the beginning of Meridian Community College's baseball season.
Mike Federico, an assistant coach last season for MCC, steps up to the plate to guide the Eagles in the 2002 campaign which begins Saturday at 1 p.m. when Wallace-Hanceville (Ala.) Community College visits Scaggs Field for a doubleheader.
The same two teams will meet again on Sunday in Hanceville, Ala.
Federico says the Eagles' defense must play well in the early going for the team to have some early success against a challenging slate.
The Eagles may be young, but there is talent. The team's pitching staff could be lifted by standout freshman Todd Doolittle.
Doolittle helped lead West Lauderdale to its 10th state baseball championship in 2001. He was 14-0 and averaged 15 strike outs per seven innings pitched. He will have one of the starting assignments on Saturday.
The other starter will be Justin Bounds, a sophomore from Tupelo. Bounds was 8-2 as a freshman before getting shut down because of arm surgery.
Right-handed sophomore Jason Wimberly of Natchez and Justin Rayborn, a freshman from Pascagoula, could go on Sunday. The Eagles will also have Damien Givens and left-hander Tim Jones available as starters.
Sophomore Michael Goodson is back to close but might not be available this weekend because of a twisted ankle. The bullpen will be set up by Chris Moffett of Clarkdale, Lance Reed of Hamilton and Joey Pounders of Caledonia.
At the plate, the Eagles will have to count on their one proven bat in third baseman Tyler Scarborough, a Meridian High graduate. Scarborough hit .385 with five home runs and drove in 53 RBIs in 2001.
Catcher Trave Hopkins of Walnut is also back. He hit in the lower part of the line-up last year.
Shortstop Lance Dawkins started 34 games and played in 43. He hit .216 but will anchor the middle defense along with second baseman Chris Wright of Caledonia who played some last year.
The outfield will be all freshmen.
Brad McKee of West Lauderdale will be in center. McKee batted .464 with five home runs for the 3A champion Knights last season.
Nathan Sanders of Terry High School and Drew Van Sickle of Senatobia are the other two outfielders. Jake Bell of Pearl will be the fourth outfielder allowing one of the other three to be the designated hitter.
Federico was a little surprised on Thursday to learn that the Eagles have been ranked 14th in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I preseason baseball poll.