By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
“Play ball” will be quite the familiar ring at the New Albany Sportsplex for the next two months, beginning today.
First pitches will be thrown today for the fourth season of the Cotton States Baseball League for college players.
“I’m ready for this to get started,” said Tallahatchie Rascals head coach Andy Dillard, a Saltillo graduate who played ball at Itawamba Community College and Delta State. “This league gives guys a chance to swing a wooden bat, and gives some guys a chance to play close to home after having gone off to college.
“This league is going in a good direction.”
For 2012, the Cotton States league will have five teams with a maximum of 18 players per squad from at least seven states.
Play begins today with two games at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., followed by a pair of matchups on Sunday.
There will also be one game a night on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s throughout the schedule, which runs until the end of July.
“There is great synergy with the coaches, players, sponsors, and City of New Albany,” said Frank Dodds, director of operations for Cotton States. “This really allows us to put a quality product on the field.”
Dodds said there are no ceremonies associated with today’s season opening games, other than little league players showing up in uniforms and getting to run out with players on the field during the lineup introductions.
“Kids nine and under will always get in free,” Dodds said. “We’ve invited a lot of local little league teams, and if the kids show up in uniform, they get to run out there and stand next to college players.”
Days throughout the season will have special event in association with sponsors.
Perhaps another perk of the league this season will be the radio broadcasts on 96.3 FM for games Sunday and Tuesday, as sponsored by Van Atkins Jewelers.
“I’ve seen kids from a very small school go through this league, then go on to other success,” Dodds said. “We love the success stories from this league.”