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Copiah-Lincoln softball, baseball teams begin drills

As the high school and college basketballseasons heat up with the start of region/district/conferenceaction, other sports are coming out of hibernation. AtCopiah-Lincoln Community College, the softball and baseball teamsbegin preseason practice today.

    Co-Lin’s Lady Wolves launch their softball season Jan. 30, hostingHeartland, Ill. Coach Allen Kent said his team would do somelong-tossing today and some agility work. Practice begins inearnest next week.

    Weather permitting, and that’s a mystery in itself; as temperaturesfluctuate between freezing nights and 70-degree days inthe  warm sunshine, teamswill attempt to hone their diamond skills.

    Unfortunately, most high schools and junior colleges in theMagnolia State don’t have indoor practice facilities for softballand baseball. However, many do have indoor batting cages andpitching mounds located on concrete slabs.

    Coach Kent said Heartland is making an earlier than usual swingthrough the sunbelt. Heartland, which finished fourth in the NJCAANational Tournament last June, plays LSU-Eunice on Jan. 29and  Co-Lin the next day.That date is Monday, starting at noon.

    The Lady Wolves will take the next eight days off before hostingthe Holmes Lady Bulldogs Feb. 8, for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.

    Kent, starting his 10th campaign, is optimistic about this year’steam. Sophomore pitchers Sarah Anthony and Brooke Delaughter are inthe circle.

    Tammy Alford, Co-Lin’s leading hitter as a freshman second baseman,returns. Kacey Smith has moved from shortstop to third base.Freshman Josie Porter has earned the shortstop’s job.

    Sophomore Carrie Moak played some third base last year but couldsee more action at first base. Four sophomores return to theoutfield: Ashley McCaffery, Bobbi Cochran, Emily Smith and StevieAnn Wright.

    “We have a good group of starters returning and we have someoutstanding freshmen,” said Kent. Newcomer Chynna Coghlan willbolster the pitching staff. Promising freshman pitcher JenniferStaruska of New Caney, Texas, has withdrawn from school.

    Freshmen expected to contribute immediately are  Bradi Davis at secondbase,  Darcy Miller andKarla Beth Hux at catcher and Shelby Mitchell,  a powerful designated hitter who alsoworks at catcher  and firstbase.

    Asked about the South Division race, Kent said defendingstate/regional champion East Central should be a favorite. GulfCoast, Pearl River and Jones County are strong. Jones “has abouteverybody back. Hinds is much improved.”

    Obviously, the South Division compares favorably to the SEC. “TheSouth Division is probably as strong as it ever has been,” saidKent.

    Last season his team finished 24-18 overall and 12-12 in the South.For sure, pitching will be a key to the team’s level ofsuccess.

    Kent said next week’s practices will start at 2:30. Pitchers andcatchers start throwing at 1:30. His assistant coach is RobChannell.

    

    Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, the Co-Lin baseball team meetstoday. Co-Lin head coach Keith Case and his staff will conduct ateam meeting at 2 p.m., followed with some long throws,conditioning exercises and weightlifting.

    Case begins his 20th season at the helm, joined by longtimeassistant Bryan Nobile and newcomer Marty Dewees. Case is countingon a crop of talented freshmen to make an immediate impact.

    The South Division scenario is similar to softball, except thelevel of baseball talent is much higher. Co-Lin’s pitching staffhas been short on depth and long in need of a higher talent levelto compete in the South.

    Last season, Co-Lin finished 20-25 overall and  8-16 in the South. The Wolves weresolid on defense and the hitting was respectable. However, therewas a shortage of strong pitching arms.

    On the mound is where it counts the most. It’s that  simple. Pitching wins championships.Pitching is the difference between winning records andmediocrity.

    Co-Lin’s four returning pitchers have a combined 5.33 ERA and 11wins.

    Hopefully, some of the newcomers will exceed expectations.

    Looking ahead, Co-Lin’s first game is Feb. 11 at East MississippiCommunity College in Scooba. The Wolves play again  Feb. 14, at Baton Rouge. Their firsthome game is Friday, Feb. 17, versus Mississippi Delta. It will bea 3 p.m. start on Sullivan Field.

    Perhaps the sun will be shining that day.

    

    Overlooked in last week’s epic review of the local 2011 sports yearwas the Brookhaven Academy Class AA state championship golf team.The Cougars, 4-time State Tournament runners-up, ended theirfrustration with a 12-stroke victory over Central Hinds,329-341.

    Coach Barry Gray’s Cougars were directed by match medalist JacobRoss who shot a 1-under par 71 at The Refuge. Teammates Jake Shelbyshot 82, Jennings Mills 84,  Mark Rushing 92, Brock Smith 94 andTrent May 96 on an unseasonably wet, cold day.

    That accomplishment was followed by the BA boys tennis team winningan unprecedented sixth straight state title.

 

    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email:tgoetz@dailyleader.com