Snowbirds visit state looking for diamond action

Published 5:00 am Friday, March 14, 2008


Those aren’t penguins or Canadian geese exchangingcompliments.

Visitors from the northern hinterlands are being serenaded bymocking birds, cardinals, wrens, blue jays, robins and chickadeesas warmer temperatures arrive. There’s a hint of spring in theair.

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Spring is slowly arriving in the Deep South after an unusuallywet and cold winter. Thank God for the rain. We needed it afterseveral dry years.

Softball and baseball coaches are allowed to disagree. The wetstuff and foul weather have caused plenty of problems with theirscheduled practices and games.

By contrast, baseball and softball coaches from the northernstates often venture below the Mason-Dixon Line during SpringBreak. In other words, they are in desperate need of real-gameaction for their teams.

Throwing snowballs, skiing, snowmobiling and ice skating doesn’tprepare a baseball player for the season. There’s only so much ateam can accomplish with an indoor training facility

That makes Sullivan Stadium at Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegein Wesson and other Mississippi junior college diamonds popularlanding spots for northern baseball teams in late February andMarch. The snow is knee-deep in places like New York, Minnesota,Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa.

Two snowbird teams, Rochester Tech (Minn.) and Ellsworth (Iowa)visit Co-Lin Sunday for an afternoon doubleheader. Sunday’s weatherforecast is 68 degrees for a high and 55 for a low.

The Ellsworth Panthers and Rochester Yellowjackets will bebasking in the sunshine no matter what happens on Sullivan Field.In the other dugout, Co-Lin head coach Keith Case and his Wolfpackwill be hunting two victories.

By contrast, Rochester’s predicted Sunday high temperature is 40degrees and the low is 22. Add the wind-chill factor and it’s afrigid 2 degrees above zero.

Ellsworth has a heatwave going. The high Sunday is going to be44 and the low is 25. Figure the night’s windchill and it’s ashivering 7 degrees.

Enterprise certainly has a softball facility to be proud of, andit’s brand new, too. The spacious layout has wall-to-wall sponsorson the outfield fence, so that means the booster club and coacheshave been working hard for financial support from businesses inLincoln County.

Head softball coach Steve Sasser has put a lot of time andenergy into the project. His Lady Yellow Jackets are a young andcompetitive team as evidenced by Tuesday’s Lincoln County FastpitchTournament. They pushed perennial powerhouse Bogue Chitto intoextra innings before losing 2-1 in the championship test.

Personally, I like the dugouts. The architects omitted thestandard cement block format in favor of a mixture of red, brownand yellow bricks.

Enterprise principal Shannon Eubanks bubbled with enthusiasm ashe discussed future plans for the athletic department’s facilities.In the background, construction workers were putting in overtime tocompensate for the recent rash of rainfall as they labored on thenew elementary school building.

Eubanks still is conducting interviews for the head football jobsince Roe Burns announced his retirement plans. He said severalquality coaches have applied for the position. What Eubanks wantsis a hard-working coach who will fit comfortably into thecommunity.

Enterprise graduated to Class 2A this past football season andsuffered the consequences. Obviously, there are more qualityathletes on a 2A football team, compared to Class 1A.

Also in the works is a new boys basketball coach at Enterprise.Josh Bass has resigned.

Meanwhile, at Bogue Chitto, the Bobcats also are looking for anew boys basketball coach. Andrew Smithie resigned at Christmas andBC head football coach Gareth Sartin inherited the job.

Bogue Chitto used to be loaded with outstanding basketballplayers. As one old sage observed, “In the good old days, you couldpick five Bogue Chitto students out of the stands and they wouldscore 80 points, no sweat.”

At small schools, athletes are required to play more than onesport if the athletic program can enjoy all-around success.Presently, the Bobcats are known best for their achievements on thefootball field.

Like most schools, the level of athletic accomplishments oftenruns in cycles.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or