Juco teams begin division baseball today

By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal

The games begin making a difference today.
The Itawamba Community College Indians begin their North Division schedule by hosting East Mississippi in a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.
“We’ve had a lot of growing pains,” said Itawamba coach Rick Collier, whose Indians enter division play with an 8-8 record. “We’ve had some guys who are use to being successful that have had to put in a lot of hard work.
“We’ve mixed our lineup over the course of the season so far, and I think we have a pretty good lineup now.”
Pitching has been a staple of recent Indians success, and Collier will start sophomores Ben Hudspeth from Tupelo and Dylan Earnest from Hamilton against East.
Collier also notes the impact so far of sophomore transfer Jake Smith from New Hope, who is the lndians leadoff hitter, and should start one of the division games on Saturday at Northwest.
Key hitters so far this season for ICC have included freshmen Ethan Gill from Pontotoc and Austin Welch from Hamilton, and freshman red shirt Drew Wheeler from Mooreville.
“All of these other games have been used to see who will start now,” Collier said. “The road to a championship starts now.”
Northeast at home
The Northeast Tigers also jump into North play today, hosting Holmes in a doubleheader beginning at noon.
“The last two doubleheaders we’ve played, we’ve played well and hit the ball well,” Northeast head coach Kent Farris said. “The key for us will be if the weather straightens up so we can play some games.”
Farris has liked the effort with the bat so far of sophomores Will Robertson from Falkner, Jake Mills from Lafayette, and Chris Aichinger, and freshman leadoff hitter Heath Wood from Kossuth.
On the mound, Mississippi State transfer Tanner Gaines from Baldwyn has stepped into a key role, as have Kyle Stephenson from Booneville and Jonathan Morrison from Ripley.
“We want to get off to a good start, and not play catch up in the division,” said Farris, whose Tigers are 6-6.