By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
Every week in the North Division of Mississippi junior college baseball is important.
But this week, both the Itawamba Indians and the Northeast Tigers can shuffle the standings in their favor as the season draws close to the end in a tight league race.
“We need to put some loses on other people,” Itawamba head coach Rick Collier said. “Everybody has been beating up everybody, so everybody still has a chance.”
The Indians (14-16, 5-7) have perhaps the most shuffling to do, standing in fifth and on the outside of playoff qualification. But Itawamba can stack the deck in its favor with three division doubleheaders this week, beginning today as it hosts division leader Northwest, with Game 1 beginning at 3 p.m.
“Northwest is especially important if we’re trying to get up to a No. 2 seed,” Collier said. “Every game is crucial.”
Itawamba visits Holmes, which is one game ahead of ICC, on Friday. The Indians play Coahoma on Saturday.
Collier expects to start Will Cockrell from Tupelo Christian and Collin Minga from Mantachie today. Against Holmes, Collier should send Ben Hudspeth from Tupelo and Dylan Earnest from Hamilton to the mound.
Northeast in third
Currently in third, two games behind Northwest, the Tigers (17-13, 9-5) get a chance to cut into that margin when they host the Rangers on Saturday, with Game 1 beginning at 1 p.m. Before that, Northeast is at East Mississippi today.
“Look at the standings, and we need to play well this week,” Northeast coach Kent Farris said. “We’re still in good shape if we take care of our business.”
Starting on the mound for the Tigers today should be Kyle Robbins from North Pontotoc and Ben Hellums from Ripley. Saturday, expect Tanner Gaines from Baldwyn and Kyle Stephenson from Boone-ville to throw.