Wolves need wins in NJCAA regional
WESSON — There’s no tomorrow for the Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege baseball. The Wolfpack’s future depends on their success inthis weekend’s NJCAA Region 23 Division Tournament at Pearl Riverin Poplarville.
Co-Lin (24-24) met Hinds this morning at 11 in the opening roundof the double-elimination tournament. Pearl River, ranked No. 1 inthe nation, plays LSU-Eunice at 2 p.m. Action resumes Saturday at11 a.m., with the first-round winners meeting. First round losersplay at 2 p.m.. The tournament concludes Sunday.
Co-Lin head coach Keith Case said he was happy with thetournament draw but there is no easy road in the regional. “I knowwe’ll face (Hinds pitcher) Kyle Bridges and he’s tough. He threw a1-hitter against Meridian,” in last week’s state tournament.
Case said he would start freshman Derek Thompson (5-4) againstHinds. The regional games are nine innings so Case in planning onusing a relief pitcher, probably strikeout king Ryan Belanger.
Case said Belanger (4-7) would probable start Co-Lin’s secondgame. “Ryan has the ability to focus on each task.”
In a season beset with injuries, the Wolves have made the bestof a difficult situation. Freshman pitchers Scotty Smith (4-4) andJoseph Langham (2-4) are expected to work as designated hittersduring the regional, as well as pitch.
Lance Deville (4-2), Will Buckels (2-2) and Te Riley (1-1) alsoare available for mound duty.
At the plate, Co-Lin is batting .294. Sophomore shortstopPatrick Williams of Crystal Springs leads the Wolves with a .377batting average. The Delta State signee also leads the team with 9home runs and 43 RBIs.
Sophomore Jody Britt and freshman Xavier Qualls of Brookhaven,are both batting .362. Freshman Matthew Schexnayder of Houma, La.is batting .329. Other leaders are freshmen Josh Logan of Magee,.282; and Garret Jones of Natchez, 275.
Justin Sykes, a sophomore from Brookhaven, is sidelined by afoot injury. He was batting .316 in 28 games.
Britt, Schexnayder and Sykes both have 4 homers this season.Qualls is a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen bases.
Pearl River (43-10), lost 7-1 to Meridian in the statechampionship game. LSU-Eunice won last year’s regional crown.