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Baseball players sweat summertime

It’s 92 degrees in the shade. The sun feels like it is about onemile from the earth’s surface. Sweat drips off our cheeks, bothpair, like water from a shower.

It must be summertime in Mississippi.

Exercise can be an exhausting experience, reserved mainly forthe early morning or late evening hours. In between times,dedicated high school-age baseball players are playing summerleague ball.

Coaches who are serious about contending for division, regionaland state championships have their players competing in summerleagues. Frankly, it is the only way to stay competitive.

Some area players even make the commute to Jackson for anopportunity to play at a higher level of competition. Pitcherspitch and batters bat. Repetition equals improvement.

In Lincoln County, Class 1A teams like Bogue Chitto, WestLincoln and Enterprise encounter a tough level of competitionduring the regular season in Division 7. For the unknowing reader,the regular season starts in late February, at or near the peak ofbasketball season.

That’s why baseball coaches encourage their players to playsummer baseball. It’s critical to the improvement of individualskills.

Small schools have to share their athletes with other sports sothat makes the competitive challenge even more difficult. Manybasketball players, exhausted from a 4-month long season, must takea deep breath and jump into baseball practice.

Brookhaven Academy baseball coach Stephen Cooksey watched fourof his starters play for the Class AA state and MPSA OverallTournament championships this spring. Baseball was put on hold asthe Cougars achieved a state title and a runners-up finish in theOverall.

Cooksey said standout guard Jeremy Winborne had lost 20 poundsduring basketball season. When the diamond sport arrived, he wascounting heavily on Winborne to anchor his team’s defense atshortstop. That’s a tough assignment, even for a full-time baseballplayer.

Cooksey plans to host a baseball tournament June 8-10 on CougarField. It will be an open tournament, including several area teams.There have been many improvements made at BA’s facility, includinga covered grandstand. Isolating fans were installed below thebleachers to create a cooling effect for those sweat-soaked summergames.

In reality, the high school baseball season starts too early.Baseball in February and March usually battles the elements ofcold, wind and rain. Three strikes are against them before the gamebegins.

While standing on the soap box, we could argue that point forgirls fastpitch softball, too. In another small-school syndrome,many of the girls are playing basketball while the softball coachgrits his/her teeth and impatiently waits for the season toend.

Bogue Chitto coach Scott Leggett has forged a highly successfulsoftball program. Looking at next spring’s fastpitch schedule,Leggett plans to delay his division/district menu until late March,or after Spring Break.

Leggett’s Lady ‘Cats should be title contenders again if he canreplace standout pitcher Meleah Brown, The DAILY LEADER’s MissSoftball and Most Valuable Player in fastpitch. She was the onlysenior on the squad that finished runner-up to South State 1A champEast Webster, the eventual state champion.

Overall, Bogue Chitto made a strong showing in girls sportsduring the 2005-06 campaign. The Lady ‘Cats were state runners-upto Myrtle in the slowpitch championship. In basketball, they lost aclose game to Stringer’s Lady Red Devils, the eventual statechampion, in the South Mississippi quarterfinals at Stringer.

Carrie Bergeron of Wesson made a strong showing in the USWBCState Tournament which was held at Rivergate Bowl in Natchez. Shefinished third among 539 bowlers and earned a cash prize. She had ahigh game of 185.

Bergeron is a member of the Wild Things. As a team they placedfourth overall among 116 teams. Also on the team are Ann Weeks,Jessica Phillips, Francis Britt and Donna Carr.

For sure, Brookhaven could use a nice, modern bowling facility.It would draw a lot of bowlers to this area, plus many folkslooking for some indoor recreation.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com