By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
With the high school baseball season officially beginning this week, the Bruce Trojans are the lone Northeast Mississippi team standing as a defending state champion.
Can the Class 2A title- holders do it again in 2013?
“I’m sure our guys will show up every day to play baseball,” Bruce head coach Josh Dowdy said. “If we get in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
Dowdy and the Trojans are dealing with eight players lost to graduation, and will be looking to second baseman Trey Hall and outfielder Taylor Shoemake for leadership as the only two returning starters.
“We’re asking for three or four freshmen to play key roles,” Dowdy said. “They’ve been with the team the last couple of years, were there for the state championship, and we’re hoping they bought in to what needs to be done.
“I think Taylorsville will back from the South, and we have to of course worry about Calhoun City, which won our division last year. But I think in the North, you can look at East Union, and also Hatley, as two teams to beat.”
The East Union Urchins are coming off a 24-10 effort from 2012, and face a lot of expectations in 2013.
“The last few years, we’ve been young,” East Union head coach Chris Basil said. “Now we’re seniors and juniors.
“We expect to be there competing for a state championship, but it depends on how hard we work.”
Basil has an experienced group to count on, with seniors Cody Dillard and Dustin Pratt, juniors Trey Barkley and Tray Davis, and Ingomar transfer Austin Sanders some of the important pieces to a championship puzzle.
“Our biggest challenge will be making sure we play for our team,” Basil said. “Our division (1-2A) is tough as always, with Hatley having some really good kids back like Russ Johnson.
“Baldwyn is always there, and you can never count out Hamilton.”
East Union split its classic weekend openers, losing to Kossuth 5-0 and defeating Thrasher 4-1.
The Urchins enter a challenging portion of their schedule right off the bat, facing New Albany today at 6:30 p.m. at Pontotoc, and Oxford and Booneville later in the week.