Five of the top 18 teams in the new NJCAA Division II poll will clash next week in a loaded regional tournament with a berth in the juco World Series on the line. Brackets are set for the first day of the double-elimination Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. On May 17, Pearl River Community College, the host and No. 1 seed, opens with Hinds; No. 2 Meridian meets Itawamba; and 3-seed LSU-Eunice takes on East Central. PRCC (34-7), ranked third in the nation, won the MACCC regular season title with a 23-5 record, 3 games better than Meridian, which had to win a play-in series to make the regional. Hinds, ICC and ECCC also advanced via that route. LSU-E is 42-5 and ranked No. 2 in the national poll. Meridian, ICC and ECCC are also ranked. Hinds, the outlier, went 18-10 in the league, has won eight of its last 10 and owns victories against Meridian and ECCC. “All of the top seeds in the MACCC advanced this past weekend,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said in a school release. “Add LSU-Eunice to the tournament field, and again this will be one of the most competitive regionals in the NJCAA. There is no doubt fans will see good players, well-coached teams and enjoy the awesome atmosphere that Dub Herring Park provides.”
William Carey University earned a bid to the NAIA national tournament by winning its first Southern States Athletic Conference championship on Sunday. Blake Freeman hit a pair of three-run homers and John Snyder delivered some clutch relief pitching to pace the Crusaders past Faulkner 11-7 Sunday at Mobile, Ala. Carey (34-10) won four straight in the SSAC Tournament, beating top seed Loyola (New Orleans) twice. The NAIA field will be announced Thursday; the Opening Round is set for May 17-20. … Delta State, 2-0 in the GSC Tournament, plays Alabama-Huntsville today in Oxford, Ala., for a berth in championship series. … In the junior college playoffs, Meridian, Itawamba, East Central and Hinds advanced to the NJCAA D-II Region 23 Tournament, which will start May 17 at Pearl River’s Herring Park. PRCC, the MACCC regular season champion, and LSU-Eunice are also in the six-team field. … MUW (20-9) will play in the USCAA Small College World Series in Dubois, Pa., beginning May 17. … The Texas Rangers claimed former Mississippi State catcher Jack Kruger off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. He goes on the 40-man roster and will likely be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock. Kruger made one appearance, on defense, for the Angels before being squeezed out of a roster spot because of a trade.