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Co-Lin Wolfpack seek more consistency in 2015

WESSON – On any given day in 2014, the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolfpack baseball team could beat any team in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC). Co-Lin had wins over Meridian, Pearl River, East Central, and Jones sprinkled throughout their schedule. The Wolfpack swept five doubleheaders, with their final sweep (over Southwest) assuring that Co-Lin kept possession of the trophy in the Coca-Cola/Powerade Challenge with the Bears.

Head coach Clay Smith is seeking a more even effort from his team in 2015 as they seek to improve on their 12-32 record of a year ago. The Wolfpack return many of their best bats from 2014, but will need a young pitching staff to grow up quickly in the always talent rich MACJC.

Watts returns to middle infield

Sophomore second baseman Wesley Watts was second on the team in games played with 42 appearances in 2014. The Northwest Rankin product also pitched 11 innings and posted a 2-1 record on the mound. Other sophomore infield returnees are Tanner Parvin and Matthew Evans. Parvin and Evans, both graduates of Brookhaven Academy, were used at multiple positions as freshmen. Parvin spent most of his time at third, but also pitched in relief. Evans appeared in the infield, pitched, and was the most used pinch runner on theteam.

The Wolfpack picked up a transfer in the addition of Austin Resser, a first baseman. Resser, who has played summer ball in Mississippi, comes to Co-Lin from Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas.Resser is a native of Newton, Kansas.

Infielders lost to graduation were Mitch Little (MACJC First Team All-State), Konner Burke, Philip Lott, and Ryan Young (MACJC Second Team All-State). Freshman infielders in 2015 are Jordan Antley (also a pitcher), Justin Oliver, and Bailey Warren.

Outfield brings back most experience

If you came to a Co-Lin game in 2014 then you could expect to see the same three guys in the outfield nearly every game. Two ofthose everyday starters, Adrian Brown and Stevie “Choc” Hubbard return in 2015. The duo tied for the team lead with 45 hits apiece and combined to hit eight homeruns, 16 doubles, and two triples. Brown, a graduate of McComb High, was named the NJCAA National Player of the Week after a monster week late in the season. He has been named to the 2015 NJCAA’s Top Returning Position Players.

Hubbard, a graduate of Mendenhall High, led the team with 28 RBI as a freshman. Both Brown and Hubbard were named MACJC Second Team All-State following their freshmen season.

Dominic Savage, the other stalwart of the outfield in 2014, was lost to graduation. Freshman outfielders in 2015 are Austin Irby (also a pitcher), Kewaun May, Jeremy Moore (a redshirt in 2014 due to injury), and Britton Johnson.

Smith an anchor at catcher in 2014

Loyd Star product Logan Smith returns after playing in 39 games as a catcher and designated hitter in 2014. Smith tied for second on the team with 27 RBI and will be joined in 2015 by freshman catchers Reed Taylor and Allen Reed.

Brown counted to lead young pitching staff

No one pitched more innings for the Wolfpack in 2014 than Shane Brown. The Simpson Academy graduate tossed 53 innings in 12 games. Brown often served as a game one starter and will be expected to provide a steadyhand for a staff mostly made of freshmen. Wesley Watts, Matthew Evans, and Alex Smith are all sophomores who saw time on the hill in 2014. Smith, a hard throwing right-hander from Wesson, saw time as a starter and in the bullpen as a freshman.

Pitchers lost to graduation include Casey Hurley and Corey Funk. Freshman pitchers include Austin Irby, Jordan Antley, Stephen Barnett (medical redshirt in 2014), Jackson Cole, Austin Douglas, Lee Smith, Mile Thomas, Austin Odom, Tanner Jones, Garrett Goodwin, and Cole Langdon.

Wolves at the next level

Former Co-Lin catcher Stephen Joe will be a senior this season for the Christian Brothers University Bucs. Another former Co-Lin catcher, Jonathan Santana, is a senior this season for the University of New Orleans. The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils will feature a Co-Lin alum in pitcher Tyler Case. Former Wolf Gabe Wilson returns for his senior season at Belhaven University after starting in 59 games as a junior. Caleb Dugas, a former Co-Lin standout, will be a senior this season at Northwestern State University. Former Co-Lin outfielder Dominic Savage will be a member of theWiley College Wildcats in 2015. Mitch Little, an infielder, will suit up as a junior this season for the William Carey Crusaders.

No more division play for MACJC

Fans will notice a change in the schedule, as the MACJC has done away with division play. Each team in the state will play each other once in the regular season. League play will take place on Wednesday and Saturday. The north and south division will remain in place and the top twoteams in each division will earn an automatic berth in the playoffs. The remaining four playoffs spots will go to the next four teams with the best league records, regardless of division. The only MACJC teams that Co-Lin will play a home and home with this season are Delta and Southwest. Playing a four game series with the Bears insures that the Coca-Cola/Powerade Challenge will continue between the two rivals.

Smith continues to upgrade Co-Lin baseball

Smith, entering his second season leading the Wolfpack, has a laid back personality that his players respond to. As a former assistant at Southern Miss and Belhaven, Smith is known as a player’s coach who seeks to instill confidence in his team by trusting them on the field.

With MACJC recruiting recently turning into an arms race, a huge priority for Smith has been improving the facilities at Sullivan Field. With help from the administration, Smith has done just that. The completion of a covered hitting facility has allowed Co-Lin to expand their dressing area and upgrade the player’s locker room. New fencing along the third baseline is another nice addition to the field and will protect any spectators sitting on the raised deck in that area.

Smith isn’t along in his countless hours spent working at Sullivan Field, as you can often find his assistants, Bryan Nobile and Ronald Sims, working right alongside him. Nobile is beginning his 11th season at Co-Lin and Sims is in his first season as an assistant. Sims, a former student assistant while a Co-Lin student, comes to Wesson from East Central.

Staying injury free, something the coach has absolutely no control over, is always a priority in baseball. Last season injuries wrecked the Co-Lin pitching staff and led players who Smith never dreamed of putting on the mound forced into action.

Above all else Smith feels like he’s upgraded the overall talent of his roster in his second year. The core of returnees were productive on the field as freshman and all 17 true freshmen come to Wesson after having standout high school careers. It’s easy to see why Smith and everyone around the program are so excited for Wolfpack baseball in 2015.


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