Tigers deal with roster turnaround

Northeast logoBy David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

The North Division championship and playoff appearance by the Northeast Community College baseball in 2013 was all well and good.

The preseason No. 20 national ranking was much appreciated.

But Northeast head coach Kent Farris will freely admit that his 2014 Tigers are very inexperienced and need to use their pre-division schedule to their advantage if they hope to be successful this season.

“We want to build on what we did last year,” Farris said. “Anytime you are ranked is good, but that was based on what we did last year.

“We are very honored, but junior college turnaround is so quick. Going into this season, we are hoping our arms will be our strength while our freshmen get their feet under them.”

Farris appears to have a number of options with his pitching staff.

Sophomores Ben Hellums from Ripley, David Gibson from Kossuth, and Hunt Halford from Oxford all saw time for the Tigers a season ago. Farris can also plug in sophomore transfers Tyler Cox (University of Kentucky), Ethan Taylor (Christian Brothers), Evan Hickman (Miss. Delta), and Tyler Nelms (Itawamba).

Freshmen Cody Bo Dillard from East Union, Evan Hickman and Tanner Whitaker from Tishomingo County, and Landon Boyd from New Hew will figure in the rotation.

In the field, the only full-time experience returning for the Tigers falls on fielder and leadoff hitter Heath Wood from Kossuth, shortstop Luke Stanley from Lafayette, and catcher Riley Alef from New Albany.

Easton Hall from New Albany will transition into the field at first base after being a designated hitter last season. Dillard and Jack Hurdle from Byhalia will be among those seeing time in the outfield, with Drew Wray and Ben Foster from New Albany seeing time in the infield.

“With so many young players, we’ll have to be patient,” Farris said. “That’s what these early games are for.”

The Tigers are 1-3 on the young season, with games this week hosting Hinds Friday, and Lake Land College Sunday. Northeast will open it’s North schedule March 12 at Northwest, and hosts Itawamba March 15.