With spring on the horizon, the green lush grass is beginning to be seen and smelled on the area high school diamonds.
The squads have practiced throughout the winter and have taken the field once again in pursuit of the elusive gold ball that symbolizes the state's best.
The area returns several key players on both the softball and baseball diamonds. Here is a look at what the area returns and an update on the current state of affairs on the diamond.
The Bay High Tigers struggled last year with an influx of young players and this year is ot drastically different with the only exception being that the greenies are a year older.
The Tigers lost Cade Compretta and Garrett Langrell with the latter now throwing at Jones County Junior College.
Compretta brought a big bat to the lineup while Langrell had a live arm on the mound.
There are several returning players to the Tiger squad including Carson Moran, Cooper Cooksey, Antonio Saltalamacchia, Lawrence Peterson, Ben Wilemon and Eli Bigham.
Bay High head coach Kevin Burdine commented, "We are a young team but our expectations of this group are to be competitive each time we step onto the field and progress as the season continues. I expect this group to work hard at improving themselves."
Currently, the Tigers are sporting a 1-4 record after beating Gautier 8-3 on Saturday.
The Hancock Hawks lost Lane Ladner to Meridian Community College but return a solid nucleus to make a run at a playoff berth.
The Haaks return Jones County JC signee Colby Oliver along with Colton Cuevas, Tanner Lemon, Russell Frank, Jackson Garrett, and Blaine Knight among others. There are a few newcomers to the Hawks' ranks like Peyton Dewitt, Max Garrett, and Sean Ostheimer.
Hancock head coach Anthony Dewitt stated, "We have a goal to make the playoffs and see how far we can go. We have some solid pitching returning this year which will help us stay in games and, hopefully, limit the opponent. We have a really good group of guys that are coachable. We are looking forward to getting into our division schedule."
The Hawks (4-3) fell to Picayune 11-1 on Saturday but came from behind on Friday to beat Long Beach 9-6.
Lemon had three hits with three RBIs including a homerun while Dewitt had three hits including a homerun. Frank added two RBIs while Knight had a triple and Payton Patterson and Oliver each had a single in the win.
Dewitt added, "Colton Cuevas starter for us tonight and had some good stuff. Tanner Lemon came in relief and gave us chances to be successful. "
The Pass Christian Pirates graduated two of their stronger batters last May when they lost Trentin Niolet and Marcos Chacon. This year the Pirates bring back Dustin Allison and Mason Knapp whom head coach Ricky Smith said the team is looking to for leadership. Other returners include Ian Trochesset and Logan Webb.
Some newcomers to the squad that may figure into playing time include freshmen Payton Lacy and Eli Hilbun.
Smith stated, "The playoffs are definitely a goal for us this season. We want to get in the postseason and see what we can do. I like our experience that we have coming back across the board. It is time to knock off the rust and get some innings under our belt."
The Pirates were 9-19 last season and were eliminated in the first round by Sumrall.
So far this season, the Pirates are 2-7. They split a pair of games this past weekend falling to Alcorn Central 5-3 and besting St. Patrick 6-1.
The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws advanced to the second round of the state playoffs after claiming the Division 8-4A title last season.
The Rocks graduated a solid nucleus of players last May that includes Trace Rhodes, Colin Fredrickson, Peyton Sandrock, Tristan Bush and Corban O'Bannon.
Hiwever, there are returning players that have been in the system for some time that include Braxton Bean, Taylor Lafontaine, Dawson Strong, Ethan McNeill, Cole Fletcher among others.
Some top newcomers that look to challenge for playing time include Easton Logan, Keaton Cunningham, Aaron Rush, Brad Dossett, Conner Ladner, Cade Rosetti and Brandon Rhodes.
SSC head coach Mark Logan commented, "Right now, we want to be consistent and do what we do. We have 10 seniors so several of them have been with us for a while. We are stressing to them to play SSC baseball. We always want to win our division, get in the playoffs and see what we can do. We have a good mix of veterans and new guys. Now, we develop chemistry and go from there."
Currently, the Rocks are 5-5 having lost to Petal 6-0 on Friday and beat Columbia 12-4 on Saturday in the Sumrall Tournament.
Bay High Lady Tigers
The Lady Tigers of Bay High lost one senior to graduation in Amia Khadaroo but return a strong nucleus that includes Mississippi All-Star Lizzie Weems, Gracey Adkins, Annlyssa Richardson, Brennan Brooks, McKenzie Favre, Annabelle Hayes, McKenna Lafontaine and Blakeleigh Lumpkin. The Lady Tigers are coming off a season that saw them advance to the second round of the state playoffs in 2019.
Bay High head coach Wali Shabazz stated, "We are excited about this season. We are still young but several of our players have been in our system for some time and know what to expect. We are shooting to get in the playoffs again this year and try to make a longer run. We have a difficult district that includes Vancleave and Stone."
Currently, the Lady Tigers are 3-2 with a 15-0 loss to Oak Grove over the weekend a 7-6 victory against Long Beach last week.
Hancock Lady Hawks
The Hancock Lady Hawks are coming off a playoff appearance last year despite a limited number of wins in 2019.
Hancock lost just one senior in Paige Jordan last May. The Lady Hawks return Macie Firchau, Ashley Sawyer, Chastity Brown, Gracie Necaise, Makaya Necaise, Adrianan Cuevas, Haley Kelley, and Lexi Spiers.
Claire Cuevas and Cheyenne Tyson will make a push to find playing time
Hancock head coach Bo Breland stated, "Our goals for this year are to have a winning season, make the playoffs and go further in the postseason than the previous years. We like our team and our team is putting in the necessary work."
Currently, Hancock is 4-4 after splitting a double header with Biloxi and beating Pass Christian 2-1.
Our Lady Academy Crescents
The OLA Crescents lost two seniors to graduation including their catcher Lexi Butcher.
They are led by Madison Burrell who has signed with Lyon College in Arkansas.
Other top returnees include Riley McCaffrey, Grace Koons, Sydney Burrell, Kiersten Arnsdorf, Hayley Cox, Lexie Ladner, Marina Amie, and Kennedy Leverett.
OLA head coach George Koons stated, "We are stuggling a little bit this year. We have a small team when it comes to numbers. Catcher is a position that is integral to the success of the squad. We are in a position to try to solidify that spot for a few years. This year we want the girls to have a positive experience and help build the program back."
OLA is currently 1-4 having beaten Sacred Heart for their lone win.
Pass Christian Lady Pirates
The Lady Pirates lost Ashley Satterwhite and Kayleigh Bishop to graduation but return a core group of players that include Cheyenne Jones, Jaylen Northrup, Lanae Dedeaux, and Caleigh Myers.
Currently, the Lady Pirates stand at 1-5 after falling to Picayune 6-2 on Friday.
See you at the games!
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