Summer baseball ready to roll

By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal

Among Northeast Mississippi schools, there will be a baseball game on Thursday – Calhoun City at South Pontotoc.
No, this is not another phase of the 2012 season, which because of weather has not even concluded, with the final games of the state tournament scheduled for today in Jackson.
In fact, it’s just the beginning of what is generally called the high school summer schedule as teams begin preparing for the 2013 season. It’s a schedule that is becoming, to a degree, as busy as the regular season.
“It’s good to have this time to play, especially in our situation having lost five seniors,” said Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen, a veteran of 38 years of coaching, 24 at the Lee County school. In fact, Saltillo hosted Itawamba AHS as one of the first games in summer play on Tuesday.
“I don’t think there is as much pressure on the kids with these games. They can have fun, and playing a doubleheader, everyone gets to play.”
For most schools, the summer schedules will last through the end of June, with area teams having an added bonus. There is a NEMCABB Summer Championship Tournament, with regional play June 21-22, and finals June 25-27.
The NEMCABB (Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association for Better Baseball) organization is also hosting its annual All-Star games Saturday in Corinth.
Growth market
“In our area, I think this has really grown the last three or four years,” said Mooreville coach Derek Thompson, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Troopers after seven seasons as an assistant. “You are looking for guys to compete, and it gets guys in game situations.
“I know for us, we’ve got six spots that players need to step up and take.”
Most scheduled dates for each team are doubleheaders, so pitching depth is at a premium for every team.
Also, all of the NEMCABB teams will be using a wooden bat, which is just a continuation of the premium placed on hitting with the first year of the use of BBCOR bats just concluding.
“It’s one of those things that if you don’t play, you fall behind,” Oxford coach Chris Baughman said. “Each coach treats this time of the year differently, but it is an opportunity to get a preview of next year, and an opportunity for us to keep next year’s team together.”