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Baseball, softball teams search for dry conditions

Spring seems to be as far away as the moon. Folks shiver in thedamp, cold air. There are puddles of water and mud holes to beavoided. Sure enough, this is hat and gloves weather for mostfolks.

Meanwhile, baseball and softball teams are struggling tomaintain some form of practice routine. It even snowed lastSaturday; certainly a thrilling sight to behold.

Coaches fret and eye the weather report. What happened to those70-degree temperatures and sunshine we were blessed with in earlyJanuary?

Time marches on and the launch date for the spring sports menuis less than a month away. On Saturday, Feb. 9, Coach RandySpring’s Brookhaven Panthers will host a baseball jamboree, meetingthe Clinton Arrows on Moyer Field.

Moving right along, the Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegebaseball and softball teams have a Friday, Feb. 15 home debutplanned. The Lady Wolves, coached by Allen Kent, will host EastMississippi for a 1 p.m. twinbill.

On nearby Sullivan Field, Coach Keith Case’s Wolfpack entertainsCoahoma and Delgado (La.) in a split doubleheader. Coahoma meetsCo-Lin at noon and Delgado faces the Wolves at 6 p.m.

The Wolves also have a Feb. 16 twinbill on tap, featuring thetitle-contending Hinds Eagles and Kaskaskia, Ill.

What to wear?

That’s a good question. More than likely, the average fan willneed a heavy jacket and a hat. Gloves and a scarf could be inorder, too.

The perils of early spring activities can be a challenge.Believe it or not, players can dehydrate in cold weather. Theirbodies consume so much energy trying to stay warm. If you noticed,Gatorade was a popular item in Sunday’s NFC and AFC ChampionshipGames which were played in freezing weather.

Lady Wolves in old gymnasium

Coach Kent’s Lady Wolves are using the old gym at Co-Lin forindoor practices. Some progress can be made but you can’t beat theoutdoors and game-style conditions.

The Lady Wolves are in a major rebuilding mode. They are led byall-region pitcher/third baseman Meleah Brown of Bogue Chitto.Second baseman Kayla Crochet of Baton Route (Redemptorist), andshortstop Ashley Sykes and centerfielder Emily Langley, both ofBrookhaven, also are veterans.

Kent’s team received a serious setback when transfer pitcherBecca Bailey sustained a torn ACL two weeks ago. Bailey, a BatonRouge (Live Oak), has a dazzling array of pitches.

Kent said Bailey has been fitted for a knee brace and will tryto pitch. It’s a day-to-day process.

In the meantime, Crochet is taking a lot of reps inside thepitching circle. Kent said he expects his team to be stronger andmore productive at the plate.

On Sullivan Field, Coach Case anticipates an improved squad. TheCo-Lin infield is anchored by shortstop Steven Gauthe’ of BelleRose, La. Gauthe’ posted a .387 batting average as a freshman andreceived all-region honors. He also received the Rawlings GoldGlove of the Year honor.

Catcher James Antoon of Kentwood, La. returns behind the plate.Timmy Foster of Natchez is back at third base and Jordan Toney ofMendenhall is at second base.

In the outfield, Paul Davis of Brookhaven, Montez Chatman ofMagee and TaeByus (Toby) Smith of Monticello are veterans.

On the mound, Brandt Hinton of Brookhaven heads a list ofreturning sophomores with strong arms. Justin Champagne ofMontegut, La. and Marty Ballard of Monticello, and Avery Mathes ofVicksburg are veterans.

Some incoming freshmen have looked strong on the mound inpractice and during the fall drills. They should help Co-Linimprove on its 22-24 record of 2007.

Case expects his team’s batting average to climb from lastyear’s .277 average. The Wolves only had 15 homers in 46 games, ledby Foster’s 5 dingers.

Overall, Case anticipates a competitive team in the talent-ladenSouth Division. He said Gulf Coast and Pearl River are loaded againthis season.

All we need right now is lots of warm sunshine so the playerscan practice outdoors.

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