Picayune wins both jamboree games, ready for season

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Picayune Maroon Tide baseball team took part in a jamboree Saturday where Picayune beat Biloxi in both games 4-0 and 5-4.

After dealing with the fallout of last season’s early cancellation, the Maroon Tide’s athletes were ready to get back to work.

“It was cold, but the kids were excited to play. They hadn’t played a real game in near about a year, so they were pumped up to play,” Head Coach Evan Nichelson said.

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Unlike last year’s squad, there’s plenty of young, inexperienced athletes on the Maroon Tide’s team this season.

Five freshmen saw action during the jamboree with several other athletes who had never played a varsity game getting some innings, too.

Nichelson has been working to get the young athletes prepared for the start of the season, and the performances were positive Saturday, which could bode well for the rest of the season.

“I thought they stepped in and competed. I told them after the game, ‘You belong. Don’t ever think you don’t belong playing varsity baseball.’ And I think they bought into that. They competed their tails off and I’m proud of the way they played,” Nichelson said.

The games won’t go on the team’s official record since they’re essentially scrimmages.

However, the wins can serve as a good starting point for the young team to draw confidence from and build upon.

“We haven’t played another team in so long that I wanted to line up across another team before the season (and see how we’d do). I think it’s a good building block for where we want to get to. I thought that was the biggest thing we took away from Saturday was understanding we can compete with good teams,” Nichelson said.

The team’s schedule has undergone some changes as inclement weather forced several games to be rescheduled, but the Maroon Tide will be back in action with an afternoon game Friday against Pass Christian.

It’ll be the first true competitive action for some of Picayune’s players, and how the athletes perform while under pressure will help Nichelson determine which players will get the most innings moving forward.

“We’re just trying to get better every day. I preach playing hard and having intense focus every pitch and we’ll continue to try and do that. We’re going to start figuring out who our best guys are to give us the best chance to win. Early games are important for that,” Nichelson said.