Tigers baseball gets it together

Northeast logoBy David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

The Northeast Tigers baseball team are halfway through their 2014 North Division schedule.

“We’re not playing our best, and we started out so slow,” Northeast head. coach Kent Farris said. “But the kids have started to grasp the things we want them to do to be successful.”

Despite a slow start in its non-division slate, the Tigers’ grasp of a total team effort have propelled the squad into a tie for first place with a 9-3 North records, to go along with an overall 16-12 mark.

“At this level, it’s such a grind, and we’ve been fortunate to have played so many kids,” Farris said. “We’re learning, getting better, and it’s a total team effort.”

At the forefront of the offensive team effort for the Tigers has been Kossuth sophomore Heath Wood with a .378 batting average. Freshman Trent Turner from Brandon is second on the team at .369.

On the mound, Farris likes the results the last two weeks from sophomore David Gibson (2-1) from Kossuth, and the consistency from sophomore Ben Hellums (2-0) from Ripley. Sophomore reliever Evan Hickman (3-0, 5 saves) from Marshall Academy has been the best out of the pen for the Tigers.

The Tigers are coming off a rough stretch of six games including wins over No. 10 nationally Miss. Delta and No. 5 East Miss., and have an equally rough next two series. Northeast will host Northwest Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., then travels to Fulton on Wednesday for a pair against rival Itawamba.

Earlier in the season, Northeast split its doubleheader with Northwest and sweep Itawamba.

New format

Of note in Mississippi junior college baseball, in both the South and North divisions, the second time through the league schedule, the first game will be nine innings, and the second contest will be seven. Last season, all league games were seven innings, and the first time through the division, both doubleheader games were seven innings.

All postseason games, however, are nine innings.

“This will make a huge difference for every team,” Farris said. “You’ve got to have depth in your bullpen.

“Our goal will be to repeat what we did the first round of division play. Things are so even in this league.”