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Brakemen have become Bandits

It’s a new-look team with a new nickname. Formerly known as theBrookhaven Brakemen, the Cotton State League team is now known asthe Bandits. There’s a new logo, too. A lower case b with a redbandana wrapped around the face of a baseball.

The Brakemen, oops, make that Bandits, will continue to serve asa proving ground for incoming college freshmen plus older collegeplayers. It’s a wooden bat league so the change from aluminum towood is a massive adjustment, especially for the graduating highschool seniors. It’s an introduction to Major League Baseball.

Co-Lin pitching coach Pete Young is theon-the-field coach for the Bandits. This is his third year at thehelm.

“This is a good league for these kids,” said Young. “It givesthem the chance to get the experience needed to go to the nextlevel without having to go far from home. The wood bat makes thembetter, more aggressive hitters and definitely boosts theconfidence of the pitchers, giving them more opportunity forcommand and control of their pitches.”

Young, a Mississippi State University All-American in 1988-1989,saw active duty in the Majors as a pitcher with the MontrealExpos/Boston Red Sox 1991-1993.

Monticello native Josh Garrett will assistYoung.

Brookhaven Academy is in charge of Bandits for a second straightyear. Brookhaven was the only franchise to turn a profit lastseason.

“It helped us make a lot of improvements to our baseballfacility,” said BA supporter Jeff Gatlin. Bank ofBrookhaven will provide corporate sponsorship. StanKing Chevrolet will supply the baseballs again.

Gatlin has been busy finding places to live for the out-of-areaplayers and some part-time employment, too.

Gene Buckles is Brookhaven’s general manager.Jimmy Waycaster serves as team statistician.

The Bandits’ season begins May 31, with a Saturday doubleheaderagainst Poplarville, starting at 1:30 p.m. There will be 13 playingdates on the academy field.

It’s expensive to be a CSL team member. The cost is $400 perplayer.

South Division teams include Brookhaven, the PoplarvilleRiverCats and the Hub City Wheels. North Division teams are theClinton Lumberjacks and the Capital City Rangers.

Tim Bennett serves as CSL Commissioner. He alsoowns Overtime Sports, Inc.

Co-Lin head baseball coach Keith Case has been busy recruitingand signing players to scholarships. According to Case, somenewcomers on the 2004 roster are pitchers ColbyBeach of Franklin County, Ryan Belangerout of Mandeville Catholic in Houma. Voycee Barnesof Simpson County, Matthew Fox of Mendenhall andCasey Deason of Brandon, plus infieldersPatrick Williams of Copiah Academy, JodyBritt of Loyd Star and outfielders JoelHurt of Clinton, Ryan Williams of Wessonand Marcus Davis of Magee.

Co-Lin loses catchers Chase Coley andAaron Oberschmidt. Case said he plans to movethird baseman Diego Nucete behind the plate. Casealso loses Paris Dancy in center field, pluspitchers Kendall Poole, MitchMangum and Michael Edwards.

Second baseman Cayce Wallace, a second-yearstudent at Co-Lin, is expected to transfer as he pursues a careerin medicine.

Aaron Guillot at shortstop and BenGoza at first base return. In the outfield, CaseyGinn and Jeffrey Waycaster will beback.

Co-Lin has a ton of pitchers returning in Tyler Perrett,Cole Zumbro, Cass Brister, Lance Deville, Calen Cline and JacobLeggett.

“We are looking at 12 or 13 pitchers and seven outfielders onthe roster,” said Case. “It will be a real competitive situation sowe expect some players to step up.”

Case’s Wolves endured a rare losing campaign but finishedstrong, winning 5 of their last 6 regular-season games againstnationally-ranked opponents. They finished 20-28, falling to PearlRiver in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament.

In case you missed it, Itawamba won the NJCAA Division II SuperRegional. The Indians (45-9) won the third game 3-2 against St.Louis (Mo.) and advance to the World Series at Millington, Tenn.,Saturday, opening up against defending national champion, Parklane(48-12) of Illinois.

Brookhaven Academy has hired a new baseball coach inStephen Cooksey of Amite School Center. Cookseyreplaces Ron Rushing who went to Adams CountyChristian School to serve as an assistant coach.

Cooksey also will work as junior high football coach.

Copiah Academy has hired John Callaway to serveas head coach of the football program. Callaway coached and taughtat Brookshire, Mass., for six years.

In another change at Copiah, Michael McAnnallyof Huntington, La., has been hired to coach boys basketball. Hereplaces CA high school principal Mitch Mitchellwho will continue coaching the CA girls basketball team.

And, in case you missed it, North Pike pitching aceDusty Davis has signed with Meridian CommunityCollege.