Daigle: SWAC must change scheduling

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

There’s never anything good about the trip back from Itta Bena for Alcorn after playing a doubleheader, particularly since the three-hour ride back to Lorman is always preceded by another doubleheader about 12 hours later.

But on Saturday it got worse. The bus had a blowout in Greenville. What was a long trip got even longer.

The Braves got home around midnight and reported to the field late Sunday morning to play another doubleheader against Valley. It’s a long trip for the Delta Devils, too, and Valley head coach Doug Shanks has had it up to here with it.

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&uot;It’s got to change,&uot; the third-year coach said. &uot;None of our schools have the pitching to play four games and try to play one game during the week. It’s just not good. I know (Alcorn) Coach (Willie) McGowan is (in favor), and Thomas Wesley at Alabama A&M is. Hopefully we’ll get it done.&uot;

Give Shanks credit for trying to change something that’s been accepted for a long time. The Southwestern Athletic Conference has traditionally scheduled consecutive doubleheaders on the weekend, and Alcorn, Jackson State and Valley have alternated sites for those weekend doubleheaders.

Under that format, Jackson State doesn’t have it as bad. But Valley and Alcorn trying to pull that feat off takes some getting used to.

&uot;We left Itta Bena about 8 o’clock this morning and we’ll get back probably about 10 or 11 o’clock tonight,&uot; Valley first baseman Nathan Purvis said. &uot;Everybody is worn out today. You’ve got to be mentally tough, especially on Sunday and especially when it gets warm here.&uot;

Alcorn graduate assistant Marqus Johnson didn’t want to put the team’s 5-1 loss in Game 1 Sunday on getting back late due to the flat tire.

&uot;Under normal circumstances, we probably would have gotten home about 10,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t want to use that excuse. As a baseball player, that’s part of knowing what to do. That’s what I tell them &045; it’s the preparation. I think a lot of guys don’t really understand until their junior or senior year what to do off the field.&uot;

The SWAC is one of the few Division I conferences in the nation that still regularly schedule doubleheaders and the only one that schedules them on consecutive days.

Only the Atlantic Sun still plays doubleheaders. The other major conferences play three single games during the weekend.

&uot;Familiarity breeds content. I don’t think (it comes down to money),&uot; Shanks said. &uot;If we can’t afford to spend one night in a hotel in Natchez to play one of our sister schools, we ought not try to play Division I baseball.&uot;

McGowan points to the money factor. In the current setup, he has to reserve rooms only for the Alabama State and A&M trip.

&uot;We have to discuss that in our conference meeting,&uot; McGowan said. &uot;I don’t want to go on record and say I favor this or I favor that. Coach Shanks just got in the league, and I’ve been in the league a long time. We’re not a revenue sport. I hope one day we can do better than what we’re doing. Whatever they want to do, I have to accept it. But I can tell you it is tiresome.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or at