DeSoto Central High, arguably the best prep team in the state, will participate in the National High School Invitational hosted by USA Baseball from March 25-28 at Cary, N.C. DeSoto Central, 28-10 and Class 6A runner-up (to Oak Grove) last year, is ranked 14th in Baseball America’s preseason poll and is currently No. 24 in MaxPreps’ rankings. The Jaguars will play Whitewater High of Fayetteville, Ga., in the NHSI, a 16-team event being held for the fourth time. DeSoto is the first Mississippi school invited. The Jags’ Austin Riley, a Mississippi State signee, may be the best player in the state. He went 8-3, 1.51 as a pitcher and batted .465 with nine homers as a third baseman in 2014. … Brandon, a 6A semifinalist last season led by outfielder Erick Hoard, is No. 22 in BA’s preseason poll. That’s two Magnolia State schools among the nation’s top 22 — another feather in the state’s baseball cap. … Mississippi did not have a player make Baseball America’s preseason All-America teams, which are selected by MLB scouting directors. But, Ke’Bryan Hayes of Texas, a first-team pick at third base, has a Mississippi connection. The Tennessee signee is the son of Hattiesburg native Charlie Hayes, the longtime MLB star who won a World Series ring with the New York Yankees in 1996. … Still can’t get over the numbers Jackson Prep’s Gene Wood, a Louisville Slugger All-America pick, put up for the MAIS state champs in 2014: .596 average, 68 runs and 52 RBIs – in 36 games! The Alabama signee has certainly set the bar high for himself this year.