Enterprise opens baseball, softball season with First Pitch Banquet

Published 1:43 pm Friday, February 2, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Enterprise Attendance Center celebrated the coming baseball and softball season with a First Pitch Banquet at Brookhaven’s FEMA building Thursday night. The dinner was provided by Mitchell’s Catering and the guest speaker was Memphis Head Coach Matt Riser. 

Junior Parker Harris opened the event with a prayer followed by Enterprise Head Coach Austin Hood speaking about the accomplishments of last year’s team. The Yellow Jackets went 20-13 in 2023 and was 5-1 in district play. 

Enterprise reached the playoffs and advanced to the third round of the playoffs after beating French Camp Academy and Salem. Resurrection, who went on to win the state championship, defeated Enterprise in the third round. Hood said Resurrection is in their district this year and will be a big matchup as his team seeks revenge. 

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The young squad last year stayed together losing one senior to graduation. Hood is confident his team will pick up right where they left off. 

“These kids will outwork anybody,” Hood said. 

Team captains are junior Ryder Martin and sophomore Cooper Jordan. Enterprise’s team has one senior this year and it is Gavin Regouffre. He plays in the outfield and is a veteran leader with the club. 

His career at Enterprise started in 7th grade although he said he started playing baseball at a younger age. Regouffre’s goal is to win in his senior season. 

“I’ve been through three coaches in my time here. Coach Hood is up there as one of my favorites. He inspires the whole team,” Regouffre said. “I want to win state and make the all-star team. I will need to get hot on the bat. I can field pretty well. We have really gotten better as a team and I think we can do better this year.” 

One reason Regouffre has continued to play baseball is because he enjoys the competitive nature of the sport. Memphis coach Matt Riser challenged the program to compete in his message to the team Thursday night. 

Riser played at Picayune High School where he won a state championship and went on to play at Pearl River Community College and Tulane University. While at Tulane, he helped the team make an appearance in Omaha for the 2005 College World Series. 

He said he got into coaching by accident. Riser was studying biomedical engineering at Tulane University when he coached a summer team. It lead to him coaching at Southeastern Louisiana for 10 seasons. 

“I found a passion for coaching. The DNDs thought I was an idiot while the baseball guys thought I was a genius,” he said. “Now here we are in Memphis. God laid down a path for us. I know what you are going through with building a team. I told coach Hood we will go through a phase that will be the most competitive in college baseball ever. Draft is benign cut down, transfer portal is open. So much talent but what is the separator? The blue collar mentality and bond you can grow with a team.” 

Riser told the Enterprise boys that a winning team is built upon hard work, belief and the late night conversations where team bonds grow. College baseball teams currently offer 11.7 scholarships which would cover a third of the roster. He said the college world is competitive. 

When scouting a player, Riser told the team he wants to see how they can handle adversity and go through tough moments. Freshman year of college baseball is one of the hardest adjustments he told them. 

“Can you handle your failures,” he said. 

Riser had to face a failure at the end of last season. After winning 320 games and leading Southeastern Louisiana to two NCAA regional appearances his program went 25-25 and the Lions fired him. 

“It took me to where I needed to be. It may work better in the long run. It was tough. So many people reached out after the news,” Riser said. “You will have tough times but you only get one life. Appreciate it and do your best.” 

Enterprise has a new assistant coach who made his way down to the program from the Greenville area. Evan Russell looks similar to his cousin coach Hood and brings a similar hunger to serving the program. 

Russell played baseball at Greenville St. Joe coached there for a season after graduating from Mississippi State. He left the baseball program and worked a blue collar job doing research farming for State. In his spare time, Russell worked to keep his family farm going as well. 

Wesson’s new boys basketball coach Trace Abdul-Hadi left the Enterprise program and Hood needed a man he could depend on. Russell said Hood called him and asked him to come down to coach and he did. Currently, Russell works as a substitute teacher at Enterprise while working on his Masters Degree in teaching from Mississippi State University. 

“I was glad to help out. I am helping him and they had me coaching football too. It is a stepping stone in life. I’m grateful to be in the program,” Russell said. “There has been a little bit of a culture shock coming down here and seeing and meeting people. I have been grateful. Coming down here the tradition is continued what we had at St. Joseph. Enterprise has a family tradition. We are making sure we have that readiness and winning ability.”