• 66°

Co-Lin, Southwest begin Coke Challenge Tuesday

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT /  Looking forward to Tuesday's opening baseball series of the Ninth Annual Coca-Cola Classic/Powerade Challenge are (from left, seated) Co-Lin players Mitch Little, Phillip Lott, Neal Randall of Chasing Fly Balls, and Southwest players Collin Carroll, Kendric Hodges; (standing) McComb Coca-Cola Bottling Co. On Premise and Sales Manager Gary Nelson, Co-Lin player Corey Funk, Co-Lin assistant coach Bryan Noble, Co-Lin head coach Clay Smith, Southwest head coach Lee Kuyrkendall, and Southwest players Anthony Durr and Logan Ferrell.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Looking forward to Tuesday’s opening baseball series of the Ninth Annual Coca-Cola Classic/Powerade Challenge are (from left, seated) Co-Lin players Mitch Little, Phillip Lott, Neal Randall of Chasing Fly Balls, and Southwest players Collin Carroll, Kendric Hodges; (standing) McComb Coca-Cola Bottling Co. On Premise and Sales Manager Gary Nelson, Co-Lin player Corey Funk, Co-Lin assistant coach Bryan Noble, Co-Lin head coach Clay Smith, Southwest head coach Lee Kuyrkendall, and Southwest players Anthony Durr and Logan Ferrell.

On a cool and windy day outside Poppa’s Family Restaurant late Friday morning, the Co-Lin and Southwest baseball coaches and players provided a different atmosphere inside the building with their bright smiles of excitement.

It was the kickoff luncheon for the Ninth Annual Coca-Cola Classic/Powerade Challenge, featuring a 4-game series between baseball teams from Co-Lin and Southwest.

Chasing Foul Ball chairman Neal Randall of Summit served as master of ceremony and welcomed the media to the luncheon. “I want to thank all of you for turning out for this event.”

Randall thanked the title sponsor, the McComb Coca-Cola Bottling Co., for their contributions to the Classic’s success over the years. “You have helped us continue this great tradition for the community and the schools. Coca-Cola Classic/Powerade has given a cash donation of $18,000 to these two great programs, which means a lot to both schools.”

The 4-game series begins Tuesday with a 3 p.m. doubleheader at Southwest Community College. Co-Lin, designated winner of the last two Classics, will host the Bears for a twin bill Saturday April 12, starting at 2 p.m.

In the event of a tied series, the previous year’s winner keeps the trophy.

All four games will be live on the Internet at colinathletics.com or southwestbearathletics.com. There will also a live radio broadcast on K106 and B92/104.3 The Boulevard.

There was a new trophy bat presented at the Luncheon for this arch rivalry and new era in junior college baseball. Last year’s trophy was given to Co-Lin’s former baseball coach Keith Case for his retirement.

Neal Randall introduced Southwest coach Lee Kuyrkendall to the stand first. Coach Kuyrkendall stated that this is a big deal for both schools and communities. “Looking back to the previous years, this series has always been tough and very competitive,” said Kuyrkendall. “It brings a lot excitement to our communities and the schools.”

Kuyrkendall’s Bears are off to a 6-10, 0-2 start this season. “We got off to an fast start, but hit a few bumps in the road here recently,” he added. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Coach Kuyrkendall introduced four of his starting infield players: Collin Carroll, Kendric Hodges, Anthony Durr and Logan Ferrell at the luncheon.

Next, Randall welcomed Co-Lin’s new head baseball coach Clay Smith to the podium. Coach Smith thanked the Coca-Cola Classic/Powerade and Chasing Foul Ball for their tremendous support.

“This series brings a lot of community supporters around to watch these two schools battle hard in a very tough South division race,” stated Smith. “I appreciate everyone’s contribution to this huge event.”

“Southwest and Co-Lin know each other real well,” added Smith. “We are all friends here and most of our players grew up here, so this is an very interesting rivalry.”

Coach concluded his speech by introducing his assistant coach Bryan Noble and three members of the Co-Lin baseball team: Mitch Little, Phillip Lott and Corey Funk.