By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
With a potential nice mix of sophomores and newcomers, Northeast baseball coach Kent Farris is ready to go.
Farris and the Tigers get their 2013 season started today, hosting Southeast at 1 p.m. and Arkansas Baptist at 4 p.m., with Northeast looking for a second straight post-season berth.
“Our kids are ready to see some outside competition,” said Farris, whose Tigers lost in the first round of the MACJC playoffs to Gulf Coast last season. “We have a good mixture of players, and the kids have worked very hard.”
Entering his seventh season at Northeast, Farris will showcase some of the experience on his pitching staff today, starting Ripley redshirt freshman Ben Hellums. Redshirt sophomore and Mississippi State transfer Tanner Gaines from Baldwyn is slated for Game 2.
Other starters include 6-foot-7 Beck Vann from Alabama, and 6-4 David Gibson from Kossuth, both freshmen.
Key to the rotation will be Kyle Robbins from North Pontotoc, Kyle Stephenson from Booneville, and Jonathan Morrison from Ripley. Both Stephenson and Morrison are recovering from injuries, but should be ready at about Spring Break.
Farris expects a veteran presence in the outfield with Justin Neal from Southaven, Dalton Sims from DeSoto Central, and Will Robertson from Falkner.
Shortstop Ethan Estes from Biggersville will anchor the infield, with Trey Welch from Booneville, Josh Mills from Lafayette, and freshman Luke Stanley from Lafayette in key roles.
Chris Aichinger from Ga., at first and Josh Mills from Alcorn Central catching rounds out the infield.
Robertson, Mills, and Aichinger should provided experience in the heart of the batting order.
“Last year, we had so many freshmen, this year, we have a nice mix,” Farris said. “This league is so competitive, but you always want to be playing when the season is over.
“We’ll have to be ready to play every day.”
Northeast continues at home Tuesday against Calhoun.
The Tigers open North Division play at home against Holmes on March 12.