By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
The No. 4-ranked Itawamba Community College baseball team currently has a six-game winning streak.
Northeast just want two wins.
With vastly different needs during the last week of the regular season, these two junior college baseball teams converge on one baseball diamond today as Northeast will host Itawamba in a North Division doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
“I know these are going to be good games,” Itawamba head coach Rick Collier said.
Itawamba (32-8, 16-4) appears to have plenty of momentum for this matchup, coming off a doubleheader sweep of South No. 1 Hinds on Saturday. The Indians have a four-game lead on Northeast and Northwest in the win column in North play.
And when the Indians lock down the No. 1 seed from the North, they would be the first in line to host the MACJC State Tournament May 10-12.
“I’ve really enjoyed this team the last two weeks,” Collier said. “We just swept the No. 1 team out of the South, and that was good experience for them to see they can play with anybody in the state.”
Collier expects to start pitchers Dylan Earnest from Hamilton and Ben Hudspeth from Tupelo against the Tigers. Hudspeth is coming off a no-hitter against Northwest April 14.
“We need the team to compete, show a lot of heart and pride,” Collier said. “Even if we have the division clinched, we need to play our games this week hard.”
ICC concludes its regular season Saturday at Coahoma.
‘Big games for us’
The post-season status of the Tigers (17-25, 12-9) is a bit more tentative. Northeast will enter today’s contests in third place behind Northwest (12-8), with Mississippi Delta (11-9) in fourth.
“This are big games for us to determine the standings of the other three teams in the playoffs,” said Northeast head coach Kent Farris, whose regular season ends today. “We have played better the last couple of weeks.”
Farris has several options as to which pitchers take the hill against the Indians. The prime candidates are Beau Cummings from Myrtle, Kyle Stephenson from Booneville, Kyle Robbins from Ecru, and Dillon Payne from Saltillo.
“The kids on these two teams have been playing against each other since travel ball, so it’s big,” Farris said. “But this game is also important because it’s the next game.”