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Case feels confident about Co-Lin baseball recruiting

WESSON – For Copiah-Lincoln Community College baseball coachKeith Case, the countdown has already begun. After having his firstlosing season in recent memory, Case signed one of the mosttalented recruiting classes in his tenure at Co-Lin. The classincludes five pitchers, six position players, and three localwalk-on’s.

“I wish I could start practice today,” said Case. He recentlyreplaced departed Co-Lin pitching coach Pete Young with Delta Stategrad Brian Nobile earlier this month. Young has taken a coachingposition at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

“This is a very good class that we signed,” said Case. “I feelreally good about this group. We’ve got some real strong athletescoming in.”

One athlete Case signed was Keeyon Sanders, a Baton Rouge(Bel-Air), La. native. Sanders comes to Co-Lin at 21 years of agewith speed and outfield wit that reminds Case of former Co-Linstandout and current minor leaguer Nook Logan.

“We’re very excited to have Keeyon coming in,” added Case. “He’sa very talented player, with a lot of tools that will help us.”

Sanders (6-0, 190), originally signed with Chipola, Fla. JuniorCollege out of high school in 2000. He was drafted by the Tampa BayDevil Rays in the 33rd round in the 2000 MLB Draft. He brings alofty first step to the Wolves, as a talented base runner andoutfielder. Keeyon ran a 6.38 in the 60-yard dash at Sullivan Fieldduring a recent workout, despite a hurt quad muscle. He’s beentimed as fast as a 6.18 in the 60, on a track surface.

“Keeyon’s speed alone will remind many of Nook,” said Case.”He’s got the potential to be one of the best to come out of ourprogram in sometime.”

Besides Sanders, Case also signed some crafty pitchers in ColbyBeach (Franklin County), Boycee Varnes (Simpson Academy), CaseyDeason (Brandon), Matthew Fox (Mendenhall), and Homua, La.All-State standout Ryan Belanger of Vanderbilt Catholic. Belanger,is the younger brother of former Co-Lin curve ball wiz BrandonBelanger.

“I feel really good about the pitchers we’re bringing in,” saidCase. “They and our six returnees should give us a good mixture onthe mound next season.”

Pitchers returning for the Wolfpack include Cole Zumbro, LanceDeVille, Tyler Perrett, Cass Brister, Jacob Leggett, and CalenCline. Varnes a left-handed signee, was named the MVP of the MPSAAll-Star Game earlier this month in Clinton. Beach, a FranklinCounty product, pitched two innings in the MHSAA All-Star Game inHattiesburg and allowed one hit.

At catcher, Case hopes he has found an answer to departedstarters Aaron Oberschmidt and Chase Coley, a Belhaven signee, withthe inking of Bay St. Louis native Guy Alleman (5-10, 185). Allemancomes to Co-Lin with lots of experience. He’s started at catcherfor Class 4A Bay High all four varsity years.

In the infield, the Wolves received letters of intent from LoydStar product Jody Britt and Copiah Academy All-Stater PatrickWilliams. Both Britt and Williams finished their senior seasonswith near .500 batting averages.

“Jody and Patrick are very sound athletes,” added Case. “Theyshould give us a lift in the infield.”

In the outfield, Case added two talented burners to go alongwith Sanders, in Ryan Williams of Wesson and Joel Hurt of Clinton.Williams, The Daily Leader’s 2003 All-Area Offensive Player of theYear, batted .314 with seven doubles, three home runs, and twotriples this season. Like his future roommate, Colby Beach,Williams also participated in the MHSAA All-Star Game on the USMcampus.

Hurt brings an impressive 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame to SullivanField, as well as a cat-quick 6.55 sixty yard dash time. He hitnearly .400 for the Class 5A Arrows this year.

“We’ve got some very good district and out-of-district playersin this year’s class,” said Case. “I feel we should be verycompetitive next year with what we’re bringing in and returning. Ijust can’t wait to get them all on the field.”

Case returns 12 players from last year’s 21-28 team. ShortstopAaron Guillot, third baseman Diego Nucete, and outfielders JefferyWaycaster, and Casey Ginn are the only returning Wolves withstarting experience. Joey Sullivan and Vance Windom return toprovide depth in the outfield.

Incoming freshman Justin Smith (Wesson), Ben Sandifer(Brookhaven Academy) and Justin Sykes (Brookhaven) are set to walkon with the Wolves.

Co-Lin graduated nine sophomores from last season. PitchersKendall Poole and Mitch Mangum are expected to sign with WilliamCarey College in Hattiesburg. Second baseman Cayce Wallace isleaning towards Mississippi College, while centerfielder ParisDancy will enroll at West Florida to focus more on his major ofstudy. Oberschmidt, Jeb Lee, and graduated relief pitcher MichaelEdwards will continue their education at USM.

First baseman Ben Goza and pitcher Matt Fitzsimmons have electednot to play baseball at Co-Lin next season.

“I’m proud of the sophomore class that graduated,” said Case.”Each one gave their best, day in and day out.”

Although the Wolves didn’t have the season Case wanted them tohave last year, a future group looks ready to take the next step.One Case hopes has travel plans to Millington, Tennessee and areturn trip to the NJCAA World Series.