• 68°

Newell, Pilots seek World Series crown

Cole Newell is savoring the moment. So are the Brookhavennative’s LSU-Shreveport teammates upon their arrival in picturesqueLewiston, Idaho, for the NAIA World Series. The Pilots are freshfrom winning the Montgomery, Ala. Regional Tournament.

The Pilots caught an early morning flight out of DallasWednesday after dodging a series of tornados while spending thenight at a hotel in the Metroplex. Upon their disembarking from theplane, a refreshing reprieve from the heat and humidity of the DeepSouth greeted them.

Newell, a lanky 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior right-hander, wantsto help his team win that coveted World Series championship. Theirfirst test arrives Friday at 11 a.m. CDT when the Pilots(45-13)meet Lee (44-12), Tenn.

Ten teams are entered in the double-elimination tournament thatruns through June 3. No. 1-ranked Embry-Riddle (50-9), Fla. is thefavorite but there are plenty of challengers. Also entered areConcordia (38-18), Cal.; Faulkner (48-13), Ala.; host Lewis-Clark(36-14), Lubbock Christian (46-12), Texas; Oklahoma Baptist(45-12); Oklahoma City (46-10) and Tennessee Wesleyan (40-19).

“Going to the World Series is a dream come true,” said Newell.”I’m looking forward to winning it all.”

Confidence is a plus and Newell’s team is currently ranked No. 6in the NAIA poll. The Pilots boast a fearsome batting order. Theyare No. 2 in scoring nationally and have launched 91 home runs.

There should be more homers sailing over the outfield fences dueto the high altitude in Idaho. The Pilots destroyedAuburn-Montgomery by a lopsided 32-7 margin in the regionalfinals.

Does Shreveport have strong pitching, too?

“I feel like our four main starters are pretty hard throwers,”said Newell. “They have tremendous durability.”

Newell was bothered by tendonitis in his right elbow lastsummer. He lost his first two games of the season and Shreveportboss Rocke Musgraves moved him to a midweek starter and middlereliever.

On the season, Newell has fashioned a 5-2 record and a 4.68 ERA.He has 25 strikeouts and only 7 walks in 47 innings.

“I like my role with the team,” said Newell. “I like coming inand getting some saves. It also helps our starters save theirarms.”

Newell sparkled on the mound for the Ole Brook Panthers. He alsostarred for Southwest Mississippi Community College before signingwith Shreveport. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

“My changeup is my go-to pitch, especially for strikeouts,” saidNewell. “I use it a lot.”

Newell, a senior, wears jersey No. 21 and is completing his workin biochemistry. He wants to pursue a career in earth science withan oil company.

Musgraves said Newell is an asset to his squad. “Cole has servedseveral roles for us this season. He’s started and relieved. Coleis a team player, always ready to fill whatever role isneeded.”

Musgraves, in his 12th year at the helm, has compiled a recordof 488 wins and 250 losses. This is Shreveport’s second appearancein the World Series.

Newell said the Pilots have an ace reliever in Cade Bowen. “Hecan come in and throw it 93 (mph). He can shut down the otherteam.”

Bowen is a stocky 5-foot-8, 180-pound junior from Monroe,La.

A Friday victory would more than likely send the Pilots againsttop seed Embry-Riddle Saturday. It looms as a great game.

Back home in Brookhaven, Cole’s father, Marc Newell, and mother,Ava Jane, are bursting with pride. Marc and his younger son,Dillon, departed Wednesday by plane for Lewiston. Daily hightemperatures are 65-70 degrees this weekend so they both packed ajacket.

Last year Belhaven’s Blazers advanced to the World Series andrepresented the Magnolia State. Pitcher Brandt Hinton of Brookhavenwas a senior leader for the Blazers.

Congratulations to Bogue Chitto’s Lady Cats and Coach ScottLeggett. They are fresh from making a successful title defense oftheir Class 1A state fastpitch softball championship. They sweptWest Union in the title series.

In case you missed it, Enterprise-Clarke also repeated in Class2A with a sweep of East Webster. Nettleton was a repeat winner inClass 3A with a sweep of St. Patrick. In Class 4A, Newton Countyupended defending state champion North Pontotoc 14-4. Wayne Countyneeded three games to beat Lake Cormorant for the 5A crown atFreedom Ridge Park. In Class 6A, Madison Central swept Petal andclaimed a second straight championship.

In the MHSAA State Baseball championships, Nanih Waiya dominatedFalkner two straight games for the 1A crown. Taylorsville wentextra innings twice but managed to beat Mantachie for the 2A title.Class 3A went to Sumrall’s Bobcats for a fourth straight year asthey swept Mooreville.

In Class 4A, Columbia swept North Pontotoc. Ridgeland captured5A with a sweep of defending state champion Long Beach. In Class6A, Petal needed three games to beat Tupelo.

Contact sports editor Tom Goetz attgoetz@dailyleader.com.