Tigers facing ‘big challenge’

Northeast logoBy David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

The Northeast Tigers baseball team used hard work and balanced play to finish in second place in the North Division among Mississippi junior colleges.

Starting today, they hope to parlay that second place into multiple weekends of post-season play.

The Tigers are set to host Pearl River today at 1 p.m. at Booneville City Park in Game 1 of a best of three series in the opening round of the playoffs.

“All teams you are playing this time of year are going to be good,” said Northeast head coach Kent Farris, whose Tigers are 25-17. “One thing that has helped us this year is the total team effort we’ve gotten.

“This is something we’ve been preparing for all year long.”

With all games in the junior college post-season bumped up to nine innings, Farris feels his pitching staff is deep enough to handle the rigors of a potential three-game season. Game 2 of the series is set for noon Saturday, with Game 3 to immediately follow if needed.

Key sophomores

Through the middle of the week, Farris had not set his rotation for the weekend, but David Gibson from Kossuth boasts a 5-2 record in 32 2/3 innings of work, and Ethan Taylor from Arlington, Tenn., has a 4-2 mark in 32 1/3 innings on the mound.

With the bat, Trent Turner from Brandon leads the Tigers with a .442 batting average, while Heath Wood from Kossuth comes in at .379.

“I think our sophomores have been a key for us all year long,” Farris said. “They’ve done a great job with leadership.”

Farris points to East Hall, Riley Alef and Drew Wray from New Albany, Luke Stanley from Lafayette, and Wood as some of the key sophomores.

Pearl River (26-20) comes in as the South No. 3 seed.

“A lot of people I talked to mentioned how Pearl River picked up its game in its division schedule,” said Farris of the visitors, who split with Northeast early in the season at a neutral site. “Both of us were resting bodies when we played each other, and I think they’ve been playing as well as anyone in the South.

“This is a big challenge ahead of us.”