Prep baseball quickly shifts to summer mode

By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal

The bus fumes for East Union and Kossuth have barely vanished from the just-completed baseball state tournament.
And yet the preparation for the 2014 high school baseball season begins this week as teams step on the diamond for their summer baseball schedule.
“This time of year is vital for us,” said Amory coach Chad Williams, whose team graduated eight seniors. “We are so inexperienced at every position, we want to get as many possible players in as many possible game situations.
“We want the new players to get as much experience as possible.”
A trend this year for the Northeast Mississippi schools will be wooden bat tournaments, with at least three scheduled in the area. The Upper Cut Wooden Bat Tournament begins today at East Union, while Itawamba AHS hosts one next week, and a Baldwyn tournament is June 14-15.
East Union is in the same boat as Amory, a team that has now basically graduated an entire starting lineup. Last week, the Urchins played for the Class 2A state title against Taylorsville; this week, they are rebuilding on the field in game situations.
‘Extremely important’
“In our situation, with so many seniors, the young kids were sitting there waiting to play,” said Chris Basil, who has been at East Union for 21 seasons. “Now they get an opportunity.
“The summer schedule is extremely important for us. It helps us find out where we’re going to be next season.”
East Union will be hosting Pontotoc, Houston, Booneville, New Albany, Saltillo, Tupelo, and Amory in its round-robin tournament this week, with games today, Thursday, and Friday. Play today begins at 3 p.m.
The NEMCABB Summer Championship tournament is a highlight for area teams.
Regional or pool play for the tournament is June 20-21 at selected locations in the area, with the tournament format June 24-26 at the New Albany sportsplex. Last season, Lafayette defeated North Pontotoc in the tournament championship game.