Rec league offers opportunities for local players

Published 3:45 pm Friday, June 19, 2020

The Mississippi High School Activities Association has banned high school teams from competing against one another, so in order to stay active over the summer some local athletes have formed a recreational league.

Neil Walther, who is the head coach of the Pearl River Central baseball program, said the league was formed so players could still take part in summer baseball after the MHSAA’s ruling.

If they don’t compete regularly, it’s possible for players to get a bit rusty, so athletes from a variety of schools have come together to compete against one another in a less stressful environment.

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Walther said the recreational league includes players from Bay High, Stone County, Hancock County, Pearl River Central High, Poplarville, Lumberton, Pass Christian and those who take part in homeschool leagues.

The league is through the Picayune Youth Athletic Association and is a way for high school baseball players to get competitive reps over the next couple of weeks.

There are five teams total who face each other on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The rosters of each team are fluid however because at times certain athletes will have to miss a game because of extenuating circumstances.

Thursday a squad made up of Lumberton, Stone County and PRC players took on a team comprised of Hancock County, Lumberton, Pass Christian and homeschool players.

The assortment of players on each team means the athletes get to go up against varied competition each game.

Walther said facing the medley of competitors helps players adapt and grow.

If the athletes were taking part in an inter-squad scrimmage that variety wouldn’t be available and Walther said the players might become too accustomed to playing against one another.

“I don’t care how good you are, if you’re pitching against the same guys all the time you’re going to get hit. Now pitchers get the opportunity to work on stuff. A lot of them are going to play for fun and others are using it to work on something specific,” Walther said.

Walther said the recreational league provides his players with an opportunity to face top tier competition, before taking the month of July to recover.

After discussion with other coaches across the state whose athletes are taking part in the league it seems like the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I’ve talked with some of the coaches in this thing and they said their kids like this set up better than what they do normally because you just show up at a central site and play,” Walther said.