EUNICE, La. – Hinds will see a different starting pitcher today when it faces Itawamba in the opening round of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament.
The Eagles saw right-hander Josh Chism in last week’s 14-13 MACJC state tournament loss to the No. 4-ranked Indians.
In today’s 3 p.m. nine-inning matchup they’ll see another right-hander, Tupelo freshman Joseph Koon.
Why the change?
“I want to give them a different look,” ICC coach Rick Collier said. “You don’t want them to see the same pitcher. It’s scary when you play the same teams you played at state.
“Everybody’s seen your pitching. It makes it harder to win.”
ICC defeated Holmes twice last week, including 17-6 in the finals, to win the state championship. The Bulldogs play host LSU-Eunice, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team at 7 today.
Koon (8-2) is one of four starters Collier can use in the regional. Chism, freshman Will Irvin and sophomore B.J. Johnson, all right-handers, give the Indians plenty of pitching depth.
“Right now, Koon and Chism are our No. 1 and No. 2,” Collier said. “Ervin and Johnson give us a great No. 3 and No. 4. They’re good enough to be No. 1 or No. 2 for another team.”
If the Indians advance to Thursday’s second round and play LSU-Eunice, look for Chism, a sophomore from Mooreville, to get the start on the hill.
No matter who pitches, look for the Indians’ bats to provide plenty of support.
ICC’s state championship, the school’s fourth overall and Collier’s second at the helm, can be attributed to its hitting. The Indians scored 47 runs and had 52 hits in three games.
“We’ve hit the ball well all year long except for the two weeks after we’d wrapped up the North Division title,” said Collier, whose team sports a .371 batting average. “Our guys, one through nine, were fired up last week. They were fun to watch.
“We need to do that again this week.”
Freshman outfielder Ladarrius Cole leads the Indians with a .489 batting average that includes 12 home runs and 58 RBI.
Sophomore catcher Dustin Lunn is batting .440 with 14 homers and 69 RBI.
Chism, who went 5-for-5 in the state semifinals against Holmes, has hit safely in all six of the Indians’ postseason games. He’s a second baseman when he’s not on the mound.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal