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Wildcats geared up for 2002

By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
Feb. 14, 2002
With its pitching staff back intact and seven primary offensive contributors returning, things look pretty good for the Meridian High School baseball team in 2002.
Head coach Vince McLemore is optimistic the Wildcats can be a dominant team in their Division 5-5A games and have a chance to not only go back to the South State finals, but even farther.
The only loss from last year's team was arguably the Wildcats' top player in Dandy Dozen third baseman Sanduan Dubose. Dubose batted .462 with 35 RBIs and seven home runs.
The good news, though, is with seven starters back, the Wildcats have plenty of capable bats to take up the slack.
First baseman John Stevens heads the list. Stevens hit .389 with 22 RBIs and 11 doubles last year. Right fielder Randy McMillian batted .352 and had a team high 14 stolen bases.
Players like shortstop Richard Alexander, John Iverson, Andy Slayton and Torry Bates will help give McLemore his wish.
Alexander batted .352 with 41 singles and 25 RBIs. He will play at shortstop.
Bates batted .345 with 31 RBIs while Iverson hit .345 with 33 RBIs. Bates, who played catcher last year, will move to more of a utility role this year.
Taking over for Dubose at third will be junior Tyler Maxwell. Lance Burnham and Bates will also rotate in. At second base will be Maurice Cole, the nephew of Brian Cole.
The pitching staff looks stout with Iverson, Maxwell and Jason Spinks back to form a tough 1-2-3 punch, with Bates providing a fourth arm.
Iverson was 9-3 with a 4.12 earned run average in 59 .1 innings pitched. Maxwell was 5-3 with 3.18 ERA in 44 innings pitched. Spinks was 6-1 with a 3.52 era in 53.2 innings.
The Wildcats will open the season with the Coca Cola Lauderdale County Tournament at John Moss Field this Friday and Saturday. On Feb. 19, Meridian will play in the Mid-Mississippi Classic Tournament at Northwest Rankin.