Pitching counted on to carry youth-laden Co-Lin squad
WESSON – If you look around long enough in the Co-Lin baseballoffice, you’ll find your share of baseball history, quotes, andbanners which keep Coach Keith Case’s intense drive alive each andevery day. And if you look in one of the corners, you’ll find theframed saying, “No team exists without its bullpen.”
That’s one indication how this year’s Co-Lin baseball team isbest described, with only a few sophomores highlighting a 26-manroster.
The Wolves begin their long awaited season Saturday at homeagainst LSU-Eunice. First game of the doubleheader begins at 1p.m., on Sullivan Field.
“We’re very young this year,” said Case. “Our pitching is theonly real strong point on our team and that’s a good thing, asyoung as we are, position wise.”
Case lost eight position starters and four pitchers off lastyear’s 27-19 team. Three of those starters signed Division Onescholarships: NJCAA All-American shortstop Kyle Beall (CoastalCarolina), David Gray (University of New Orleans), and Derek Atkins(Mississippi State).
Signing Division Two deals where Arlandus Brown, Matt Lea, andSeth Lofton with West Alabama.
“We had a lot sign D1 and D2,” said Case. “Anytime you losethose guys in those positions, you have your work cut out.”
One player the Wolves will have back is strong-armed righthander Cole Zumbro on the mound. Zumbro established a 7-3 mark lastseason. He will be called upon as a closer and a starter thisseason.
“We’ve got some guys coming back that have a high up end forimprovement.” added Case. “Having a deep pitching staff will be anasset.”
Joining Zumbro on the Co-Lin mound staff are sophomores KendallPoole, Mitch Mangum, and Michael Edwards. Newcomers to the moundwill be Lincoln County products Chad Lagrone (Brookhaven Academy),Matt Fitzsimmons (Brookhaven), Jacob Leggett (Bogue Chitto), andLoyd Star product Cass Brister.
Freshmen Lance DeVille, Tyler Perrett, and Copiah Academy gradsThomas Garland and Callen Cline will also provide support on themound.
“Having this many pitchers, will allow us to experiment alittle,” added Case. “Right now Cole, Kendall, and Mitch will beour top three in the rotation.”
For the infield positions, inexperience is the main word.
At first base, Zumbro, sophomore Jeb Lee, and Brookhaven productBen Goza will see action. Providing answers at second base andshortstop will be freshmen Cayce Wallace and Aaron Guillot.Venezuela native Diego Nucete’ will anchor third.
In the outfield, Case will start sophomore Paris Dancy incenter. Dancy hit three home runs last season with a .309 battingaverage. Joining him in the gaps will be Chase Coley and JefferyWaycaster in right. A three-way battle between freshmen Casey Ginn,Joey Sullivan and Ben Davis will decide the starter of the leftside.
“There are still some positions up for grabs,” continued Case.”Chase will rotate from the outfield to catcher indoubleheaders.”
Coley and sophomore Aaron Oberschmidt will control the actionbehind the plate.
As for the schedule, there will be baseball in May for theWolves. With the new the division format, Co-Lin and Pearl Riverwill automatically qualify for the NJCAA Region 23 Division TwoTournament this season. The Wolves and Wildcats are the onlyDivision Two schools in the South Division.
“We have a new division layout this year,” said Case. There willbe three separate divisions (North, Central, South), with five teamin each division.”
Asked about the teams to beat in the South Division, Casepointed to 2002 World Series participant Pearl River. “Pearl Riverwill be stronger this year than they were last season. Jones, GulfCoast, and Southwest will also be tough.”
Case is entering his 11th season with the Wolves and will beassisted by pitching coach Pete Young who enters his fifthyear.