New coaches, strong divisions highlight baseballPublished 12:01am Sunday, February 19, 2012
Baseball season is generally signified by warmer temperatures in most parts of the country.
But since it’s been unseasonably warm this year, we’re just going to have to follow the schedules of our local prep baseball teams to know it’s time.
Baseball season officially starts this week in the Miss-Lou, and our local teams have many interesting storylines surrounding them this season.
One of the more interesting district competitions will center around the MAIS District 5-AA, which features local teams Adams County Christian School and Trinity Episcopal, as well as Columbia Academy and Brookhaven Academy.
Trinity is the defending MAIS Class A state champions, and with a pitching staff headlined by senior Jake Winston, a Southern Mississippi commitment, the Saints look to be a formidable opponent this season even with the move up to Double-A.
ACCS, meanwhile, is a senior-laden squad that returns all but two players from last year’s team, which fell just short of the playoffs. With pitcher Jake Brumfield and catcher Christopher Perry headlining the group, the Rebels are hoping another year of experience will allow them to get over the hump and into the postseason.
But the Saints and Rebels will have their hands full both in district play and beyond. Brookhaven Academy won the Double-A title two years ago, and any South State aspiration will also deal with teams beyond District 5-AA.
Centreville Academy returns all but one player from last year’s Double-A state title squad and are likely the favorites this season to repeat as state champions. Central Private, which Centreville beat to win the South State title last season, is also expected to field a strong squad this year.
ACCS head coach Hunter McKeivier said he expects the Double-A state champion to come out of the South this season. With so many strong teams that make up the South, I’m inclined to agree.
Meanwhile, Cathedral High School’s squad will center around three senior pitchers, Blake Martin, Collin Hammons and Caleb Upton. The three are also expected to be a strong force in the middle of the lineup, with Daniel Huffines and Kyle Bradley setting the table at the top of the order.
Cathedral made it to the third round of the Class 1A playoffs last season before being eliminated by eventual state champion Nanih Waiya High School. This season, the Green Wave players are aiming to go even further, with a state title on their minds.
Natchez High School will be an interesting team to follow this fall, with first-year head coach Skip Golding taking over for Charlie Williams. Golding will oversee a team with just one senior, but he said he expects his team to be competitive this fall.
In recent seasons, Natchez High has typically started off the season slowly before finishing strong once the players adjust to the game. The big question mark is who will step up to fill the void left by starting pitcher Javon Washington, who graduated last spring.
Finally, Vidalia High School will have a new head coach for the second time in two seasons, with Kale Davis taking over after Tim Herndon decided not to coach a second year.
After a disappointing season last spring — the Vikings finished 6-18 in 2011 — Vidalia is hoping to get back to its winning ways that were almost a given under former head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir. With 11 seniors on this year’s Vikings squad, the growing pains of last season’s young team are hopefully behind them.
Now that spring is here, hopefully the weather will cooperate as we head into what looks to be a very interesting season on the diamond this spring.