Pitchers step up; help fill spots in Co-Lin’s lineup

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

WESSON — Freshmen Scotty Smith of Brookhaven and Joseph Langhamof Wesson were recruited as pitchers out of high school byCopiah-Lincoln Community College head baseball coach Keith Case. Asinjuries started to take their toll on the Wolves this season,Smith and Langham began filling vacancies in Co-Lin’s startinglineup, Smith at first base and Langham in left field.

To Co-Lin’s credit, the Wolves have survived eight surgeries andfind themselves in the NJCAA Division II World Series which startsSaturday at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. Sixteen players carryCo-Lin’s title hopes.

Smith, 7-4 on the mound, began splitting time with designatedhitter Ben Sandifer at first base when Te Riley went down with ashoulder injury. When Smith is on the mound, Sandifer takes over atfirst.

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“Coach (Case) told me I would be a pitcher when I signed,” saidSmith. “I was a little surprised when he asked to play first base.I knew I could play that position.

“I asked him to give me a chance and it worked out pretty good,”Smith continued. “I had never played there before. You get a lot ofaction. You have to expect a grounder on every pitch.”

On the season, Smith is batting .189.

Smith said he was looking forward to the World Series. “I’m veryfortunate. Last year we won state and now this. There’s not muchmore you could ask for.”

Langham (2-4) is batting .243. Playing left field wasn’t a newexperience for him.

“I played outfield in high school when I wasn’t pitching,” saidLangham. “I was glad to contribute in any way I could.”

Like Smith, Langham is excited about going to the World Series.”The World Series is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. It’s amazing howour season has gone. Everything has fallen in place.”

When the injury list reached epidemic proportions, Case said heand assistant coach Bryan Noble began looking for help. “Duringfungo (outfield practice) we would look for the best fielders.”

Leading off for the Wolves will be freshman Joshua Logan (.276)of Magee. Xavier Qualls (.353), a freshman from Brookhaven, willfollow Logan. Next up is sophomore shortstop Patrick Williams(.377) of Crystal Springs, the team’s leading hitter, with 10homers and 47 RBIs to his credit.

Sophomore second baseman Jody Britt (.353) of Brookhaven (LoydStar) follows Williams. Britt has 5 homers and 36 RBIs.

Freshman Garrett Jones (.280) of Natchez starts at third baseand has 3 homers. Catcher Matthew Schexnayder (.301) of Houma, La.is considered the team’s ironman for his 56 starts this season,most of them behind the plate.

Sandifer (.212), a sophomore from Brookhaven, works asdesignated hitter/first baseman. Smith and Langham follow Sandiferin the lineup.

Ryan Belanger (6-7) will start on the mound against Elgin (Ill.)in Saturday’s contest.

Also on the active roster are pitchers Lance Deville and WillBuckels of Meadville, Derek Thompson of Mendenhall, and MatthewTubbs of Crystal Springs. Deville is the long sophomore in thatgroup.

Utility players are freshmen Cody Cunningham of Brookhaven andGregory Ketchings of Natchez. Managers are Alan Case and BlakeByrd.

“This is a dream come true for my players,” said Case. “Theyhave worked hard.”