Four area players in all-star action

Published 9:00 pm Friday, June 4, 2010

Four area baseball players are absorbing the all-star experiencethis weekend. T.J. Floyd of Loyd Star and DeHendret Collins ofFranklin County are playing for the South 1A/2A/3A Team. WillieBuckley of Lawrence County and Justin Badon of North Pike aremembers of the South 4A/5A/6A squad.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Coaches and directed bythe Crossroads Diamond Club, the all-star twinbill will be playedSaturday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The 4A/5A/6A game is at 1p.m., followed by the 1A/2A/3A game at 6.

The all-star squads reported Thursday morning to the HindsCommunity College campus in Raymond for a series of workouts. TheSouth squad practiced at 3:45 and 8:45 yesterday.

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Floyd (6-1, 190) has been a versatile player for the Hornets,according to Loyd Star head coach Johnathan Breakfield. “T.J. hasplayed every position in our infield at one time or another. He cancatch and pitch.”

Floyd has signed a scholarship with Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege. He also starred at linebacker for Loyd Star’s footballteam.

Major improvement in Floyd’s batting average was a key in helpingthe Hornets advance to the second round of the stateplayoffs.

“He brought up his batting average about 120 points,” saidBreakfield. “T.J. was more selective and got himself in goodhitting counts. He was a little bit more patient.”

Floyd batted .330 this season. He had 27 RBIs and two homeruns.

“It’s an honor to make the all-star team,” said Breakfield. “ the first player from Loyd Star since I’ve been here.”

Breakfield is in his eighth year at Loyd Star, the last six as headcoach. His Hornets advanced to the third round of the Class 2Astate playoffs in 2009 and reached the second round this season,losing to Richton, the eventual state champion.

Floyd is rooming with pitcher Zach Webber from St. Andrew’s. Othercatchers on the South squad are Chad Guice of Sumrall and StephenEvans of Vicksburg St. Aloysius.

How did Floyd raise his batting average this season?

“I was more aggressive at the plate,” answered Floyd. “Whenever thecount got tighter I was more selective, just trying to hit.”

Willie Buckley (5-10, 190) was selected Lawrence County’s MostValuable Player this season as the Cougars (20-8) finished third inthe region race, just missing the playoffs. He batted aschool-record .482 and has signed a scholarship with Co-Lin. Heaccounted for 29 RBIs and hit four homers.

“Willie has the quickest hands and wrists that I’ve seen in byyears of coaching,” said LCHS coach Cory Keyes. “He hits the ballhard every time.”

Keyes said Buckley is a quiet leader. “He doesn’t talk much but heleads by example on the field. He’s a fine young man.”

Buckley played the outfield and infield for LCHS, also pitchingthis season.

DeHendret Collins (5-10, 170) batted .475 for Coach Brent Calcote’sFranklin County Bulldogs. He can play the outfield and pitch.Collins has signed scholarship papers to play football and baseballat Co-Lin.

Justin Badon (5-11, 170) batted .475 for the North Pike Jaguars whoare coached by George Lott III. He was voted district MVP.

All-Star Coaches

Coaching the South 1A/2A/3A team are Hamer Morgan of Forest andBrandon Davis of Richton. North 1A/2A/3A coaches are Brad Milton ofAckerman and Andy Wilbanks of Ingomar.

South 4A/5A/6A coaches are Joey Ward of West Jones and CharlieWilliams of Natchez. Coaching the North are Brian Rea of Ridgelandand Jake Yarborough of Grenada.