Local baseball coaches prepare for restart

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The local coaches are coming up with plans to restarting athletic activities since the ban on athletics by the Mississippi High School Activities Association is set to expire on June 1.

Now the coaches of those programs need to determine what aspects to emphasize once activities resume, while also following player safety guidelines when it comes to practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picayune Baseball

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The Picayune Maroon Tide baseball program is ready to hit the ground running June 1.

Head Coach Evan Nichelson said there will be 10 new players on the team and so practicing early and often will be key in enabling the younger athletes to adjust to the varsity level.

Nichelson said the plan is for the team to practice multiple times a week while also playing two intra-squad scrimmages every Tuesday and Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Participating in summer ball with other teams was a tempting opportunity, but Nichelson said his players will benefit more from the scrimmages.

Not only will it allow more players to get consistent reps, but it’ll also allow the staff to stop the action mid game and coach up any mistakes that might’ve been made.

“I just think it’ll benefit us with a young group of guys to play each other and get more reps. I have a young team coming in with 10 new guys who haven’t been in varsity baseball,” Nichelson said.

Nichelson said the early weeks of practice will focus more on fundamentals and getting the new athletes adjusted to the higher level of play.

However, as time goes on the plan is to get into more complicated concepts before the program takes its month long break in July.

“We have to take July off. We’ll get started back in August having baseball in 4th period and start back with weights and practice,” Nichelson said.

The loss of last season meant fewer reps for younger guys, which could’ve hindered their development.

Practicing often and playing against each other will help make up for lost time.

“We had a lot of young guys we were expecting to get game time and they didn’t, so now it’s kind of going back to the drawing board and just try to prepare them the best we can,” Nichelson said.

Poplarville Baseball

The Poplarville Hornets baseball program has a similar plan set in place, but it’ll start with tryouts the first week of June. Interested students can tryout for the team before practices begin in earnest.

Head Coach Slade Jones said the plan is to have certain position groups come to practice at specific times to make sure the group number doesn’t exceed the 20 person maximum set by Gov. Tate Reeves’ most recent executive order.

Jones is hoping his team can participate in some summer baseball games, but that decision still hasn’t been made with coaches unsure how to proceed with intrastate play.

Jones said the cancellation of the season and restrictions on activities until June 1 has affected the athletes’ normal routines to keep their bodies in shape, which is something the team will have to remedy during the summer practices. “We’re going to make our best attempt to get back on a normal schedule as fast as possible. We have to get their bodies back on the schedule we know they have to be on,” Jones said.

Neither coach is willing to say anything is set in stone with new information coming out on a daily basis regarding COVID-19.

The uncertainty makes it hard to plan too far in advance, but both coaches are doing their best to be ready for whatever comes their way.

“We just want to be prepared if things change. We’re kind of in unprecedented territory currently,” Jones said.