Natchez baseball coach Dan Smith to be in charge of Grand Slam MSA All-Star Baseball Game

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Natchez High School head baseball coach Dan Smith will have a lot of responsibilities on his plate next month as he has been chosen to be in charge of the inaugural Magnolia Sports Association’s Grand Slam MSA All-Star Baseball Game.

The Grand Slam MSA All-Star Baseball Game will take place at East Central Community College in Decatur with practices on Thursday, June 15 and the game itself on Friday, June 16. However, there has been a change in the format and the schedule.

“We plan on doing this every year,” Smith said. “I’ll be in charge of the baseball (All-Star Game) from this time forward. I found out about two weeks ago. My first reaction was ‘Wow.’ I knew it was going to be a lot of work.”

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Magnolia Sports Association chief executive officer Kiery Stribling said last Monday morning that the All-Star Baseball Game was originally scheduled to be two games — one involving the Class of 2024 and another involving the Classes of 2025 and 2026 that Friday at 2 p.m.

However, the All-Star Softball Game will now take place at 1 p.m. and the All-Star Baseball Game will involve the Classes of 2024 and 2025 in one game and that will be held after the conclusion of the All-Star Softball Game, which Stribling said will now be at approximately 3 p.m.

As for why Smith was chosen to be in charge of the Grand Slam MSA All-Star Baseball Game, Stribling said, “Just his recommendation from coaches all over the state. He’s been coaching for 20 years. He’ll be a great assent not only for this year, but going forward. Him knowing a lot of coaches around Mississippi and the surrounding areas.”

Smith will be in charge of coaching staff, the practices, and what Stribling described as a Major League Baseball-style combine that will take place that Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

“We will host the top All-Star Game and we host the top players from the state in public and private schools from the Class of 2024 and 2025 in one game,” Stribling said. “This is the first year we’ve added baseball. He’ll be heading the coaching staff and be the coordinator for the baseball game. There will be seven coaches.”

“At first, I thought I was just going to be coaching the game,” Smith said. “We’ll have the North Panola coach, Independence (High School) coach, they’re from north Mississippi. Bobby Hill, who’s from Gainesville, Fla. and is from the Natchez area, he’ll be helping. We have the coach from Crystal Springs and the coach from O’Bannon up in Greenwood. One of my assistant coaches, Favian Moore, and my trainer, Christian Reynolds, they’ll be assistant coach and trainer for both the softball and baseball games.”

Smith said it’s a big honor for him to be involved in this All-Star Game. He added that he’ll basically be the manager. He said it helps give Natchez get more notoriety.

“When we do it next year, hopefully it’ll be bigger next year,” Smith said. “And the next year.”

Stribling noted that having this unique format for the Grand Slam MSA All-Star Game in both baseball and softball will help players in both sports have their careers extended beyond high school.

“We’re trying to create a bigger pipeline for baseball players and softball players to make it to the next level. We want to make sure that we can get in exposure at a younger age, not when it’s just the last stages of recruiting. That’s why we’re doing juniors and sophomores, not just seniors.”

Stribling then added, “If we have any sponsors who support the kids, we welcome them. There’s only one Magnolia (Sports Association).”

Even with the changes made to the Grand Slam MSA All-Star Baseball Game, Natchez High sophomore-to-be Martavis Woods will still be able to play in the game and along with senior-to-be Jaylin Davis.

“They made an exception for him. He’ll be able to play. He’ll be good,” Smith said about Woods.