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Diamond Wolfpack seek bettter year

WESSON — Anchored by a strong middle infield defense and solidpitching, the Copiah-Lincoln Community College baseball team plansto climb the South Division ladder in 2008. Co-Lin head coach KeithCase believes his team will be better at the plate, too, with morepop in their bats.

Case’s Wolfpack launch their campaign Friday, Feb. 15, hosting adoubleheader. Coahoma plays the Wolves at noon on Sullivan Fieldand the Delgado Dolphins of New Orleans arrive for a 6 p.m. test.On Saturday, they entertain Hinds at noon and Kaskaskia (Ill.) at6.

“We are excited and ready to get started,” said Case. “Everybodyis healthy.”

Case’s team finished 23-24 last season. They were 2-9 in theSouth Division, missing a final week of the season shot at makingthe playoffs.

As a team, Co-Lin batted .277. Opponents batted .310.

“Our defense, especially up the middle with shortstop and centerfield, should be pretty solid,” said Case. “Hopefully, that willgive us an edge.”

Shortstop Steven Gauthe, returns a .387 batting average whichearned him all-region and all-state honors as a freshman. The BelleRose, La. product also received the Rawlings Golden GloveAward.

Back at third base is slugger Timmy Foster (.343) who led theteam with 5 homers and 52 RBI as a freshman. In the outfield, PaulDavis (.331) leads a group of veterans. Davis hit 3 homers and had24 RBIs last year.

Montez Chapman (.259) and TaeByus Smith (.211) return speed anddefensive skills to the outfield.

Behind the plate, James Antoon (.297) returns veteran skills.Backing him are freshmen Mitch Pappas and Zach Summers andsophomore Russ Carter.

On the mound, sophomore right-hander Brandt Hinton of Brookhavenanchors the pitching staff. He compiled a 6-4 record last season,posting a 3.47 ERA.

Sophomore righty Justin Champagne (2-2) and southpaw MartyBallard (0-2) have experience.

“I was worried about our pitching early but we have some guyswho are really throwing well,” said Case. Newcomers Avery Mathis, alefty; and Patrick Shumaker have shown promise, along with TrentHartzog, Joseph Evans, Christian Marborue, Brock Campbell, IanFerrell and Zach Watson. Foster and Gauthe could see some moundtime, too.

Offensively, we are still trying to be more consistent,” saidCase. “We have a chance to be successful. We should be verycompetitive.”

At first base, Josh Coone and Cameron Logan should see duty.Jordan Toney is at second base, along with Bennett Wilson.

Foster is backed by Micah Davis at third base.

In the outfield, Davis in left is backed up by freshman JaredRogers. Freshman Mason Warren is in right field.

Rogers can play center and right.

Case, 47, is starting his 16th season at Co-Lin. He said helikes the attitude of this year’s team. “You can see a differencein the faces this year. They come to practice and work hard everyday. Our sophomores have set a good example for the freshmen andsome of our freshmen are pushing them for starting jobs.”

South Division Preview

Asked about the South Division race, Case said defendingchampion Gulf Coast and Pearl River “are extremely loaded.” Heexpects Jones County and Southwest to be title contenders, too.

Case has arranged an attractive non-division schedule againstvisiting teams from Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Three of Case’s former players, Josh Garrett, Tyler Perrett andCole Zumbro, are serving as assistant coaches this season.