Some of Mississippi's top underclassmen baseball players are competing against some of the best underclassmen from the states of Arizona, Califormia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Missouri and also from the country of Canada in what has possibly become the most well attended tournmant by pro scouts and college coaches in the nation, the 2004 Junior Sunbelt Classic Tournament in McAllester, Oklahoma.
Pro scouts from just about every Major League Baseball team as well as coaches from numerous colleges, including coaches from Mississippi's big three Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss, attend the annual tournament.
Results from Mississippi's first four games...
In game one, California, with their starting pitcher throwing in the 92-94 mph range, defeated Mississippi 14-6. Mississippi was led at the plate by seniors-to-be Dave Woods, a 6-2, 175, pound catcher/outfielder from West Lauderdale HS, and Paul Gatchell, a 5-11, 175-pound third baseman/shortstop from Pascagoula HS, who were both 2-for-4. Woods has a double and home run with 2 RBI. Senior shortstop Brian Dozier (5-11, 165, Itawamba A.H.S.), an outstanding defensive player, also had a good day at the plate, going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Senior Alex Ward, a catcher from Simpson Academy, was 1-for-2 with 2 RBI. Senior Zac Lott from Seminary HS took the loss for Mississippi. The game was played in a 35 miles per hour wind.
Game two saw the Mississippi team defeat Georgia 7-4 behind the hitting of Dave Woods (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI), D'Iberville HS senior third baseman Glendel Madden (2-for-2, 2 RBI), Paul Gatchell (1-for-1, 2B), Meridian HS junior Tyler McMullen (1-for-1, 2B, 3 RBI). Adams County Christian School junior infielder Timmy Foster also hit a home run. The winning pitcher was 5-11, 185-pound senior Brach Davis. Once again the Mississippi team faced a pitcher throwing in the 90+ range with the Georgia starting pitcher throwing in the 92 mph range.
After trailing 4-1 in game three, the Mississippians rallied to defeat the Oklahoma Gold team 5-4 in 9 innings. Once again Dave Woods had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a double. Paul Gatchell, who also played in last year's tournament, was 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI. Tyler McMullen, who is 6-1 and 190 pounds, hit a home run and also pitched the first 7 innings. Normally a catcher, Tyler is playing right field during the tournament. Northeast Lauderdale HS senior pitcher Cory Chance, who threw the last two innings, picked up the win.
The fourth game saw Mississippi score four runs in the last two innings to defeat Arizona 5-1. Saltillo HS senior pitcher Charlie Williams, who threw a complete game, allowed just three hits while striking out 9. Kosciusko senior catcher Scott McCrory was 2-for-2, while Brach Davis was 1-for-1 with an RBI. Brian Dozier, Paul Gatchell and Senatobia HS junior shortstop/third baseman Taylor Walker also had one hit each.
Heading into their game against Tennessee Sunday afternoon, Mississippi had a 3-1 record. California was 4-0, while Texas was 3-0.
Players who have hit the ball well are as follows.Paul Gatchell - 6-for-11, 1 double, 2 RBI.
Dave Woods - 6-for-16, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 5 RBI.
Taylor Walker - 4-for-9, 1 double and 1 triple.
Brach Davis - 4-for-11, 1 double, 2 RBI.
Brian Dozier - 4-for-15, 1 double, 1 RBI.
Tyler McMullen, although I don't have his entire stats, has hit a home run, 1 double and knocked in 4 runs.
Interesting tidbits.How tough it is to make the Oklahoma team? So many players from the state of Oklahoma want to be on the team, each player has to pay $200 just to try out. The lucky players who make the team have to pay an additional $350.
Canada's team is so well financed their program guide is bigger than Mississippi State's media guide. They sponsor three teams, one for sophomores, one for juniors and one for seniors.
Georgia's team is sponsored by the Georgia Coaches Association.
California has great corporate sponsorship, which allows their team to play against numerous teams throughout the summer.
Like California, the Texas team has great corporate sponsorship and the Texas Coaches Association helps sponsor the team.
Tennessee's team, which is one of four Tennessee summer teams, has all of their equipment paid for by various companies like Rawlings, Worth and other major corporations. Each player pays $100 for trip expenses. To make the four, 20-player teams, there are tryouts in 8 locations throughout Tennessee, Pro scouts, as well as college coaches from NAIA and junior college programs, select the players. Approximately 650 players tried out for the 80 spots.
At this point, the Mississippi team has no sponsorship. The players are selected by team coaches and Harry Porter, a college professor, part-time scout and the manager of the Mississippi Stars, a fall baseball team made up of some of the top high school baseball players in Mississippi.
Watch out for Tennessee pitcher Chris Coleman. Already 6-6, 235 with a fastball consistently in the high 80's to low 90's, Chris is only a junior-to-be from Germantown HS.
I mentioned college scouts from Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss being in attendance. Some but not all of the other schools represented at the tournament are Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas-Little Rock, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Notre Dame, Texas-San Antonio, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Air Force, the Naval Academy and West Point. According to team Tennessee's coach, Bo Griffin (head coach at Millington HS), all of the Major League Baseball teams will come through during at least part of the tournament. Between 15 to 30 scouts and college coaches are at each game.
Players from all the teams stay with host families from McAllester during the tournament.
MISSISSIPPI ROSTER (Unless noted, all are seniors-to-be)1. Cory Chance - OF/RHP, N.E. Lauderdale H.S.
2. Glendel Madden - RHP/3B, D'Iberville H.S.
3. Taylor Walker - Junior, SS/2B/RHP, Senatobia H.S.
4. Brach Davis - LHP/1B, Southaven H.S.
5. Garrett Harris - Junior, RHP, New Hope H.S.
6. Charlie Williams - LHP/OF, Saltillo H.S.
7. Parker Temple - RHP/OF, West Lauderdale H.S.
8. Timmy Foster - Junior, RHP/INF, Adams County Christian School
9. Paul Gatchell - RHP/3B/SS, Pascagoula H.S.
10. Dave Woods - C/RF, West Lauderdale H.S.
11 Cullen Kight - RHP/1B, Simpson Academy
12. Tyler McMullen - Junior., RHP/C, Meridian H.S.
13. Brian Dozier - SS, Itawamba A.H.S.
14. Alex Ward - C, Simpson Academy
15. Zac Lott - RHP/INF, Seminary H.S.
16. Kyle Fairly - RHP, Manchester Academy
17. Austin Tayler - RHP, Kosciusko H.S
18. Scott McCrory - C/RHP, Kosciusko H.S.
19. Ricky Gardner - Sophomore., RHP, West Lauderdale H.S.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org