Round 1 of the Battle Royale that is the junior college postseason begins today at four schools around the state. The best-of-3 playoffs feature Hinds at Jones County; Northeast at Meridian; Gulf Coast at Northwest; and Itawamba at East Central. Pearl River, which claimed the MACJC championship on the regular season’s final day, has clinched a spot in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament, along with region host – and No. 1-ranked – LSU-Eunice. The other eight schools are battling for four spots in that double-elimination event set to begin on May 16. Jones County, ranked third in the nation, lost its grip on the state title when it was swept by Meridian – 16-8 and 13-12 – last Sunday. The Bobcats (37-9) are led by Luther Woullard (.427, five homers, 52 RBIs) and pitchers Cooper Brune (11-1, 3.69 ERA) and Tyler Spring (8-1, 2.52). Other players of note in the postseason include: Hinds’ Andrew Beesley (.488, seven homers), Northeast’s Colt Chrestman (.431), Meridian’s Davis Bradshaw (.444, eight homers), Gulf Coast’s Brandon Parker (.422, 20 homers, 71 RBIs) and Josh Lewis (8-1, 2.11), Northwest’s Brant Blaylock (.381, 17 homers, 58 RBIs), Itawamba’s LaBryant Siddell (.381) and East Central’s Wyatt Ball (.366, seven homers). … PRCC (37-9) is ranked sixth in the new NJCAA D-II poll, and Meridian is 19th. Other than Northeast, every other MACJC school still playing was ranked at one time this season. Hinds is the defending region champion.
Jones County Junior College looked the part of the No. 1 team in the nation today, whipping Northeast Mississippi 14-4 in the opening round of the MACJC Tournament at Booneville. Chris Morgan and Trent Giambrone combined for nine hits, three home runs and six RBIs to back the pitching of Westin Stringer. The Bobcats (41-9) play Hinds, a 13-4 winner over East Central, in today’s winners bracket game. Northeast and East Central play an elimination game at 10 a.m. today, and the winner of that game will play the JCJC-Hinds loser in another elimination game on Friday. JCJC and Hinds have clinched berths in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament next week. P.S. Meridian Community College, the state’s only NJCAA Division I program, plays Delgado on Friday in the Region 23 Tournament at New Orleans. The Eagles (25-24) lost four of five games this season against Miss-Lou Conference rival Delgado, the No. 3 team in the nation. MCC is led by Dalton Thomas (.349, seven home runs), Ben Gann (.291, seven homers, 43 RBIs) and Goose Yates (5-2, 2.75).