Published 7:00 am Friday, February 28, 2014
CARRIERE — Yet another prep baseball season begins today across the state, and local fans won’t have to travel far to see all of the area teams in action this weekend.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Pearl River County Classic will feature all three county teams as well as neighboring Hancock in a two day, four game affair to officially begin the season.
Picayune and Poplarville will get the new season started a little earlier than most teams, as they face off at 5 p.m., at the Pearl River Central Sports Complex. Following that game, the host PRC team will meet Hancock somewhere after 7 p.m.
Last season, all three county teams made the state playoffs.
“I think it’s a good thing, I believe all of the teams involved enjoy starting off the season this way,” Pearl River Central head coach Neil Walther said. “There always seems to be competitive games.”
On Saturday, Picayune and Hancock will meet at 11 a.m., followed by Pearl River Central and Poplarville sometime after 1 p.m.
All local teams competed in scrimmages against other teams last weekend, but today marks the official start of the season.
Last season, Picayune made it within one win of playing for a state title, but the Maroon Tide fell to defending state champion Pascagoula in three games in the Class 5A South State finals.
Picayune, Pearl River Central and Poplarville will all participate in the Pearl River Community College Classic next week as well. The event begins on Monday on the PRCC campus and runs throughout the week. All games will take place at Wildcat Stadium.
Pitching could be a strength for all three county teams throughout the season, as each returns key hurlers from last season.
The Maroon Tide will rely on Peyton Lee and Mark Wood, while the Blue Devils feature Chance Putnam and Dylan Spiers. Despite the loss of Dandy Dozen standout Zac Houston, the Hornets return Blake Ladner as well as Chandler Ray and Hayden Freeman.
• In other news of local interest, Mississippi State pitcher Zac Houston of Poplarville tossed a scoreless inning of relief in his Bulldog debut on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs collected season highs in hits (13) and runs (13), while snapping a two-game losing streak with a 13-1 win over visiting Mount St. Mary’s.. With the win, MSU improved to 6-4, while Mount St. Mary’s fell to 2-2.
Houston and junior left-hander Lucas Laster each threw an inning apiece, in support of starter and winning pitcher Ben Bracewell,giving MSU 13 players in 2014 to make their debut in Maroon and White. Houston and Laster combined to face the minimum.