For many in Miss-Lou, next season begins this weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; No two summers are alike, but one thing is always a constant once the school year wraps up for prep baseball clubs in the Miss-Lou.

Next year is here already.

Unlike previous summers where teams would meet during the week and play or form a league with teams from Lincoln County or Concordia Parish, this year it&8217;s all tournament ball for teams in the Miss-Lou.

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And Cathedral, who has taken summers off in recent years, will put a team together. Action begins for many this weekend at the Memorial Day tournament in Vidalia, while Cathedral will begin June 3-4 in the Trinity tournament.

&8220;We have a lot of kids interested, and some parents had come to me and asked to keep our kids together,&8221; said Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley, who will coach along with Joe Eidt III. &8220;We&8217;re going to do that and play through the month of June. We&8217;ll play three weekends for sure, and we&8217;ll try to look for one more tournament. We&8217;d like to go to Baton Rouge or somewhere like that and see some different teams.&8221;

Much like other squads this summer, the Green Wave&8217;s emphasis will be on developing players for the 2007 season and bringing up the eighth-grade class up to get a taste of varsity.

Beesley pointed out a need to develop more pitching for next season after graduation took nearly the entire staff from this past spring. Patrick McDonough will suit up for the Miss-Lou Select this summer but play with the Cathedral team when that team is not playing.

&8220;We definitely need to find another pitcher,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;We&8217;ve only got four or five I feel comfortable with, but one of those will have to step up and give us some innings. We just want somebody to go in there, throw strikes and led the defense play behind them.&8221;

The Green Wave will host a tournament June 23-24 after initially scheduling it the week prior, which fell on the same weekend as the State Games of Mississippi. That should wrap it up after getting in a tournament at Brookhaven Academy June 10-11.

The team has most of its infield returning with the exception of the corners with Jesse Morrison, Braxton Fondren and Preston Edwards returning. Kole Junkin will return in left, and Beesley pointed to eighth-graders Caleb Johnson, Cole Mann, Dylan White and Hunter Foster who may get playing time.

&8220;It&8217;s something new, and it&8217;s going to be good for us,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;We&8217;re looking for a 3-hole hitter. It&8217;s a matter of seeing who can do it under pressure. I hope it turns out well.&8221;

McDonough will join the Miss-Lou Select team with a number of players returning at Vidalia along with others from the Miss-Lou. Eddie Brewer of Vidalia will serve as general manager of the team again, while Southwest Mississippi Community College coaches Pete Young and Michael Clement will be coaches.

The team will feature 17- and 18-year-olds, Brewer said, and will participate in the Miss-Lou Memorial Baseball Classic Friday, Saturday and Sunday to kick off the summer.

&8220;We bumped it up a little bit and let some of our seniors play,&8221; Brewer said. &8220;(The coaches) should help us out good with their experience. Young is pitching coach, and Clement is position players. Out of the 14 kids, eight of them are pitchers.&8221;

Brewer had a team put together last year that hosted a wooden bat tournament and traveled to Tennessee for a tournament, and this summer his team will try to get in 30 games and may play in a tournament in Millington, Tenn.

The team will have Vidalia standouts Jordan Brewer, Will Thomas, Trey Keith, Cameron Ainsworth and Tyler Bruce. Players from Natchez include Charlie Lane, Eric Perry, McDonough and Dustin Carroll. Collin Dor/ of WCCA and Casey Aldridge of Amite School Center will also suit up, along with two players from south Louisiana.

The Select will go this weekend in the tournament with teams from the Gulf Coast, Tallulah-Vicksburg and Hattiesburg.

From there, the Select will go in a tournament at Pace, Fla., June 17-18, in Brandon at the end of June and the Bayou State Classic in Mandeville, La.

&8220;It&8217;s kind of a get-together thing,&8221; Brewer said of this weekend&8217;s tournament. &8220;Most of them are 16-and-under teams. This will be our first time to play together as a group. The nucleus of the team is 17-year-olds. All we&8217;re trying to do is get a lot of games in and get the kids used to each other. We want to get oiled up before we go to Pace.&8221;

Also in Concordia Parish, the East Central Dixie Majors will begin its league next week with three teams made up of players from Natchez, Vidalia, Monterey and Tensas Parish. Leo Eliser will head up the league that went down from five teams last summer to three, but the overall numbers didn&8217;t change that much.

Two teams will have 12 players, and one will have 13. Instead of each team playing 10 games like last year, each will play 16 &8212; including one team playing a doubleheader each night.

&8220;We just didn&8217;t want to take the chance,&8221; Eliser said. &8220;We could have had four teams, but with people being gone, it can get kind of hard. We&8217;ll play 16 games this year, which will give the kids a whole lot more fun.&8221;

Natchez High will put a team together to play this summer under assistant coach Dan Smith, NHS head coach Charlie Williams said.