Area baseball tourney idea a good one
AUSTIN BISHOP/EMG Regional Sports Director
Skipping across the sports scene on a sunny Saturday …
High School baseball season is officially under way in East Mississippi.
Two games were played last night in the Coca-Cola Lauderdale County Baseball Tournament, which features Neshoba Central and five teams from Lauderdale County.
The event is really more of a classic that doesn't actually determine a champion. Each school plays two games against predetermined opponents.
Two games were played last night, with four more set for today, beginning at 10 a.m. The first pitch for the last game is set for 7 p.m.
MHS head coach Vince McLemore says he hopes the event can become an annual event. There have been county tournaments in the past, but they were played under different formats and for one reason or another eventually fizzled out.
McLemore, along with tournament director Jerry Crenshaw, appears to have brought new life to the idea. It will be interesting to see how it grows.
Baseball is traditionally popular and strong in East Mississippi so this baseball event, and other like it, have a chance at success.
It doesn't hurt that two of the six teams in the field are ranked in the Top 10 in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger's preseason baseball poll.
West Lauderdale, which went 36-5 last season and won the Class 3A title, is ranked No. 4, while Meridian is No. 9. The Wildcats were 25-15 last year.
Warren Central will be defending its Class 5A title without its start pitcher and its head coach.
Left-handed pitching ace Taylor Tankersley is now a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, while former WC head coach Sam Temple moved east to take over the program at Clinton.
The new head coach at Warren Central is someone area baseball fans are familiar with.
Randy Broome, who played second base at Meridian Community College in the early 1990s and was on one of MCC's World Series squads, is the new Vikings boss.
To be honest, I have never seen Broome coach. But I have seen him play.
His nickname is "Scrap" and it is one that most definitely fits.
The diminutive middle infielder wasn't afraid of anybody's flying cleats when he was in the midst of turning a double play, and would rather collide with another player than avoid them.
Broome went on to play his college baseball in Clinton at Mississippi College.
His Vikings have plenty of talent on the field this year and also have a quality individual on the bench. There shouldn't be much crying in Vicksburg this year, just more celebrating.
Both the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State have released their 2002 football schedules.
Both are playing 12 games this season, taking advantage of a rule by the NCAA that allows extended season in certain years.
USM is playing six home games a true rarity for the Golden Eagles from Hattiesburg, while the Bulldogs will be playing six games in Starkville as well.
The first three games of the year are interesting ones for the Golden Eagles, who are constantly looking for ways to increase the size of the crowds at M.M. Roberts Stadium known as "The Rock" by the USM football faithful.
The Golden Eagles open on Aug. 31 with a home game against Jackson State, followed by two more home contests.
Illinois, the Sugar Bowl opponent of LSU last season, visits Hattiesburg on Sept. 7, followed by Conference USA rival Memphis on Sept. 14. It was a loss to the Tigers of Memphis that really sent the USM season into a slight tailspin in 2001.
Mississippi State plays host to SEC rivals Auburn (Thursday, Sept. 19), Kentucky (Nov. 2), Tennessee (Nov. 16) and Arkansas at home.
The non-league home games are against a pair of Alabama squads. Jacksonville State comes in for the first MSU home game of the year on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m., while Troy State, which shocked MSU last year, is the Homecoming foe at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.
The Bulldogs open the season on the road against the University of Oregon on Aug. 31.
The Ducks have won 25 of their last 26 games at Autzen Stadium, Oregon's home field.