Alcorn’s two-sport star hopes for sweep of JSU

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2003

LORMAN &045; The senior season on the diamond hasn’t gone the way Alcorn’s Kris Peters has planned it. His team is struggling, and personally he’s still trying to find a rhythm.

But there’s still hope.

Peters and the Braves can turn a negative into a positive this weekend with a four-game set against Jackson State, although it would requires a sweep of the Tigers. So it’s a big series for Peters, Alcorn’s two-sport standout who runs a 4.3 in the 40, in more ways than one.

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After all, baseball was Peters’ first love.

&uot;If we play the way we need to play, it won’t be my last weekend,&uot; said Peters, who will graduate May 10 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. &uot;I’m pretty much focused on the series. But it’s crossed my mind. It’s been a long ride. Hopefully we’ll play well this weekend and end the season on a good note.&uot;

There have been about as many good notes as bad notes this season for the Braves. They come into the series sitting third in the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s East Division 13-15 after they got swept by Mississippi Valley State two weeks ago.

Jackson State, who took three of four from the Braves earlier in the season, needs just one win to get into the SWAC tournament, set for May 1-5 in Baton Rouge.

Peters, meanwhile, can’t help but feel partly responsible. He has missed games to attend NFL workouts, and he struggled early before getting his average up to .266 following the series against Valley.

&uot;I think what it is is he wants to get drafted in football and missed all that time,&uot; Alcorn head coach Willie &uot;Rat&uot; McGowan said. &uot;You have to spend time in baseball. Because he was missing that time, he hasn’t had a good year. I’m the last person to stop a kid if he can get drafted, especially in football.&uot;

McGowan said Peters isn’t the only senior who has had a subpar season, which has forced the Braves to go with younger, untested players at times to try to find a spark. Peters missed games against Arkansas-Little Rock and Southern to attend tryout camps in Dallas and Houston in hopes of catching someone’s eye.

But he found a little redemption when he came back during that first Jackson State series when he hit a homer in each of the doubleheaders.

&uot;It’s been real disappointing for me,&uot; Peters said. &uot;I haven’t been able to put my time I needed to put in. I missed about six games, and I never got into a rhythm. I’m not making excuses. It made me realize I kind of hurt myself and hurt the team because I let them down. I haven’t held up my end of the bargain.&uot;

Peters is still among the leaders in the conference in stolen bases (17), but his junior season he was among the leaders in hitting at .329. He also finished third in the conference in stolen bases with 29.

But either season he’s been tough to strike out &045; just 11 times in 109 at-bats this year after fanning just 20 times in 149 at-bats last season.

&uot;Peters can hit, and he has speed,&uot; McGowan said. &uot;He’s the type of ball player who goes in streaks. If he gets that streak going, he’s tough. But he hasn’t been able to get it together.&uot;

Peters finished his career in football on a similar streak after being named second-team All-SWAC. He finished with just under 800 yards receiving after topping the 1,000-yard mark his junior season.

Not bad for somebody who came to Alcorn originally to play baseball.

&uot;I always played football in high school,&uot; Peters said. &uot;I asked if I could try out for the football team. My first year I played more at running back. It depended on the quarterback. My junior year was when (offensive coordinator) Coach (John) McKenzie came in, and that’s when I had all those catches.&uot;

Peters, a product of Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge, happened to make a visit with high school teammate Brandon Talton to Alcorn after finishing his first year at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Mo.

His days on the diamond with the Kittens was as a shortstop, and the natural progression &045; or so everyone thought &045; was he was going to do the same for the Jaguars.

Southern head coach Roger Cador made Peters two offers &045; once while in high school and another while at Maple Woods &045; but he turned both down.

&uot;Everybody was expecting me to go to Southern and play ball,&uot; Peters said. &uot;I felt like I needed to get out of Baton Rouge. I came here with (Talton), and I liked the atmosphere. We’ve always had a team thing. Everybody is together, and if you found one of us you found all of us. I’ve watched Southern on TV, and I know a lot of the guys that play over there. I know the coaches real well. There’s no bad blood between us.&uot;

If the Braves can pull the sweep this weekend, they may match up against those Jaguars next weekend down at Baton Rouge. If not, Peters will go on &045; graduation is two weeks away, and he’s also trying to catch on in pro baseball by attending a major league camp this summer.

&uot;I’ve had a couple of teams call my football agent,&uot; Peters said. &uot;I received a call from an Arena I football team. They want me to come out and play with a $75,000 starting salary. If all else fails, that’s where I’ll be &045; which isn’t bad.&uot;

Baseball, however, could pan out if the Braves pull the sweep. With Southern having an outstanding year, the scouts should be there.

A sweep would make all that disappointment go away.

&uot;We’re like a cat &045; we’ve got another life,&uot; McGowan said. &uot;When I say we’re going to end up on the 28th, they tell me, ‘No, no, no, coach. We’re going to the tournament.’ So that’s a good sign.&uot;