The Magnolia State will be represented in the venerable National Baseball Congress World Series this year. The Hattiesburg Black Sox, champions of the Mississippi Baseball Congress (semi-pro) state tournament, are among the 13 teams from five states invited to play in the Kansas-based NBC event, which starts Aug. 3. The Black Sox open the double-elimination tourney against the Colorado Cyclones in Hutchinson. Some games are also being played at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium. The Black Sox won the state title – their third in a row — last weekend, beating the Jackson 96ers 5-2 in the final at Vicksburg’s Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi. Tournament MVP Casey Echols, a former Hinds Community College and Mississippi College standout, drove in two runs for the Black Sox. Hinds CC alum Justin Smith had an RBI, and ex-Warren Central and East Mississippi CC star Marcus Ragan scored the game’s first run. Delta State product Layne Tedder got the win and Clyde Kendrick, a former Texas Rangers farmhand from Vicksburg, notched the save. “These are guys that should be playing on TV,” Black Sox coach Trey Aby told the Vicksburg Post. … The Cotton States League’s postseason tournament starts tonight when the Black Prairie Mudcats play the Golden Triangle Jets and the Tallahatchie Rascals meet the Toccopola SwampMonsters in the opening round in New Albany. Round 2 of the 10-team event is Saturday. The North Delta Dealers are the top seed after a 13-3 season led by Alex Frillman (Holmes Community College), who hit .450; Dylan Hale (Northwest CC), a .405 hitter with 21 RBIs; and Walker Johnson (East Central), who is 2-0, 3.24 ERA. The Woodall Mountain Lookouts (12-6) are the 2-seed. Trace White (Delta State) batted a league-best .455 for the Lookouts. … The Deep South Collegiate League’s eight-team playoffs were slated to start Wednesday and Thursday in Poplarville and Petal. Seven Southern Miss players participated in the first-year league, including Gabe Montenegro, Hunter Stanley and Reed Trimble.
Hunter Renfroe took some batting practice cuts Sunday in his new home park, Tropicana Field, and put on a show of power, according to an mlb.com account. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, acquired by Tampa Bay from San Diego in the off-season, hit a pair of balls off the indoor stadium’s catwalks, considered quite a poke. “Renfroe was playing pepper with the back wall,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “That’s not something you see a lot of guys do.” Renfroe averaged 28 homers over the past three seasons with the Padres. … Spencer Turnbull, the Madison Central High alumnus now with Detroit, spent time during MLB’s shutdown back in Mississippi throwing to dad Jim, who, per an mlb.com report, wore full catcher’s gear as his son worked on his complete arsenal of pitches. “He’s caught me my whole life,” Spencer said. “Anytime I go home in the off-season, I’ll throw to him. He’s not usually in full gear, but I’m throwing flat grounds to him all the time.” … Ex-State star Mitch Moreland drew praise from Boston manager Ron Roenicke following his BP session at Fenway Park on Sunday. “When we have him out there on the field, hopefully he can start like he did last year,” Roenicke told mlb.com. “We know how important starting well is this year. Today is about as good a day as you can have for him.” Moreland, typically a fast starter, hit 13 homers in his first 46 games in 2019 and 10 homers in his first 44 games in 2018. … MSU product Dakota Hudson threw live BP in St. Louis’ camp on Saturday and said afterward he is pleased with how efforts to smooth out his delivery have gone. “I feel comfortable with what I’m doing,” Hudson said in an mlb.com article. “I was trying to mess with some stuff at the end of last year, and going into spring this year, I was able to show it off a little bit.” Hudson, 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 2019, is seeking to cut down on walks this season; he led the majors with 86 a year ago. … On the local front, there was some actual baseball in Vicksburg over the holiday weekend, with the Hattiesburg Black Sox semi-pro team taking on the US Military Baseball Team in a three-game series at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi. The US Military team, a touring independent club, is not affiliated with the Department of Defense but plays in honor of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The NJCAA National Team, which includes five MACJC alums, begins play in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday against the San Diego, CA Force. Pitchers Shemar Page of Pearl River Community College and Tyler Spring of Jones County, catcher Tucker Childers of Northeast and outfielders Brandon Parker of Mississippi Gulf Coast and Brant Blaylock of Northwest are on the NJCAA team roster. Hinds coach Sam Temple is on the coaching staff. Parker, from Saucier and West Harrison High, was the NJCAA Division II player of the year as a freshman. … Southern Miss All-American Matt Wallner is hitting .250 with four homers, 11 RBIs and four steals in 80 at-bats for Falmouth in the Cape Cod League, which concludes its regular season today. Falmouth has clinched a playoff berth. Wallner, who did not make the final cut for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, has had a streaky tour in the CCBL. He had a seven-game hit streak that included three homers in mid-July. He is 6-for-13 with three RBIs over his last four games. … The Hattiesburg Black Sox, champions of the Mississippi Baseball Congress state tournament, are participating in the inaugural Bluegrass World Series in Louisville, Ky. The six-day, eight-team tournament, created by the owners of the minor league Louisville Bats, includes various amateur and semi-pro teams, most notably the Louisville Stars, a collection of former major leaguers. Managed by Johnny Bench, the Stars’ listed roster includes, along with Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Johnny Damon, former Holmes Community College star Roy Oswalt and Mississippi State alum Jonathan Papelbon. The Black Sox played the Stars on Wednesday; they lost 15-2. … The North Delta Dealers are the 2018 Cotton States League champions; they beat HillCountry 6-2 in the summer league’s title game in New Albany on Sunday. Collin McPherson, a Freed-Hardeman alum, homered, scored three times and pitched six innings for the Dealers. Northwest Mississippi CC’s Hunter White had a hit and scored twice and Southaven’s John Wesley Ray had two hits and an RBI for the Dealers. … Chad Girodo, ex-Mississippi State star and onetime big leaguer, is pitching for the Chicago Dogs of the independent American Association. (The Dogs’ bench coach is Jackson native Stan Cliburn.) Girodo was released from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization in June. Through 10 games with the Dogs, the 27-year-old lefty has a 3.17 ERA.
The Hattiesburg Black Sox, making their first trip to the National Baseball Congress World Series, play their second game in the storied amateur event tonight against the Great Bend (Kan.) Bat Cats in Wichita, Kan. Jaylyn Williams had a couple of hits and scored the game-winning run for the Black Sox in their opener on Sunday, a 5-4 win against the Inland Empire (Calif.) Golden Bears. Hattiesburg was held without a hit for the first six innings, according to the NBC website. Nathan Stewart got the save for the Black Sox, champions of the Magnolia Adult Baseball League and the Mississippi Semi-Pro State Tournament. … Playoffs get underway in the Cotton States League this week, starting with the Tupelo Thunder against the North Delta Dealers tonight in New Albany. The Golden Triangle Jets and Tippah County Tribe play Thursday. The Tallahatchie Rascals and HillCountry Generals, the top two in the regular season standings, await the winners in the Saturday semifinals. The Generals’ Luke Miller leads the college summer league in batting at .453. The Dealers’ Alan Rickman is the top pitcher, with a 5-0 record and 1.42 ERA. … Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn and Hattiesburg High’s Joe Gray are on the roster for Saturday’s Under Armour All-America Game, to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The duo also was picked for the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Aug. 13 at Petco Park in San Diego. Both games will be televised by MLB Network. … Three Mississippians were selected for USA Baseball’s 14U National Team Development Program, which is being held this week in Cary, N.C. Logan Forsythe of Biloxi, Easton Hood of Tupelo and Collin Reuter of Olive Branch made the 40-man roster. (Noah Foster of Tupelo and Drew Tucker of Laurel were on the alternate list.) The program includes “skill development sessions, off-field education seminars and intrasquad games,” according to the USA Baseball website. … Dallas Woolfolk of Ole Miss registered four saves and a 0.87 ERA in 10 games for the Collegiate National Team, which went 15-5 this summer. Mississippi State’s Konnor Pilkington had a 2.65 ERA in five games (four starts).
One has to wonder if the Minnesota Twins are considering a promotion for Brent Rooker, who is wearing out the rookie-level Appalachian League. The ex-Mississippi State star – the 35th overall pick last month — has 12 hits in his last seven games for Elizabethton and is at .323 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 16 pro games. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rooker has been playing left field; he played mostly first base at State this year. … Rehabbing big leaguer Sean Rodriguez went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts for the Mississippi Braves in an 8-7 loss to Jackson (Tenn.) on Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The M-Braves fanned 11 times all told and dropped to 4-14 in the second half of the Southern League season. They play the Generals again tonight at the TeePee. … Blake Anderson, the former West Lauderdale High star catcher, is now listed as a pitcher on the roster of the Gulf Coast League Marlins. Anderson, widely hailed for his defensive abilities, was a supplemental first-round pick by Miami in 2014. Injuries have limited him to 58 pro games (one in 2016), and he carries a .173 average. He has not appeared in a game this season. … None of the four high school players drafted out of the state this year signed to play pro ball. Myles Christian of Olive Branch, the highest prep pick (18th round, Seattle), is bound for Middle Tennessee State. C.J. Dunn of Center Hill, a Toronto pick, is going to Texas Tech; Ocean Springs’ Garrett Crochet, a Milwaukee pick, is off to Tennessee; and McLaurin’s Davis Bradshaw, another Brewers draftee, will play at Meridian Community College in 2018. The state’s Gatorade player of the year, Trey Shaffer, a left-hander from Biloxi, wasn’t drafted. The Southeastern Louisiana signee went 8-1 with a 1.20 ERA for the Indians. He also hit .380. … The only other 2017 draftees who didn’t sign were Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum, Ole Miss’ Brady Feigl and East Mississippi Community College’s Marcus Ragan, who is bound for Arkansas-Little Rock. State’s Cody Brown (New York Yankees) and Southern Miss’ Tracy Hadley (Chicago White Sox) signed as non-drafted free agents. … The Mississippi Semi-Pro State Tournament is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium. Among the participants will be the Hattiesburg Black Sox, who won the Magnolia Adult Baseball League title. … USA Baseball has unveiled the 40-man group that will go to Minneapolis in August to take part in the 18U National Team Trials. Pitcher J.T. Ginn of Brandon and outfielder Joe Gray of Hattiesburg made the cut. The team trials begin on Aug. 19 and the final 20-man roster will be announced on Aug. 24. The 18U National Team will compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, from Sept. 1-10.
Ran across an interesting tidbit while reading a story about the Laurel Black Cats’ first appearance in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. You might know of the semi-pro team’s rich history. It traces its roots to an independent Negro League franchise founded in the 1930s and claims the great Satchel Paige as an alumnus. Also mentioned in The Wichita Eagle article is a player named Ted Nicholson. Ever heard of him? In addition to playing for the Black Cats, Nicholson apparently played a little ball at Oak Park, the pre-integration black high school in Laurel. (Olympic gold medalist Ralph Boston also went there.) Nicholson was impressive enough to be drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1969. In the first round. Third overall. A third baseman at Oak Park, the 6-foot-4, 197-pound Nicholson was moved to the outfield in pro ball. He played parts of three seasons in the minors – his career was interrupted by military commitments, according to some sources – and hit a respectable .252 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs. But he never got past the Class A Midwest League and never played another game in affiliated ball after 1973. As the third overall pick – behind Jeff Burroughs and J.R. Richard in that ’69 draft – Nicholson would have to be deemed a bust as a pro. Still, he owns the distinction of being the highest draftee ever out of a Mississippi high school over 52 years of MLB drafts. Seems like Ted Nicholson would be – or should be — more well-known.
Even a social media boost from fellow Southern Miss alum Brett Favre couldn’t propel Brian Dozier into the MLB All-Star Game. The American League Final Vote winner was Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, MLB announced a short time ago. Minnesota’s Dozier, second in the Final Vote among fans, fell short despite being tied for the AL lead in runs (65) and topping AL second basemen in homers (18) and RBIs (45). Jose Altuve of Houston was voted in as the starter at second base by the fans, and Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis was selected as a reserve on Monday. … Jim Davenport is the only USM product to make an MLB All-Star team. He did so in 1962 when he was with the San Francisco Giants, going 1-for-1 as a sub at third base in the first of the two games played that year. … Ex-Ole Miss pitcher Aaron Barrett has been activated from the disabled list by Washington (see previous post) and will be in the Nationals’ bullpen for tonight’s game at Baltimore. … Belhaven University officially began its membership in the American Southwest Conference on July 1 and will begin transition to NCAA Division III (non-scholarship) status on Sept. 1, according to a school release. The ASC, of which Mississippi College used to be a member, is comprised mostly of Texas schools, including UT-Tyler, UT-Dallas, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons. The Blazers, previously an NAIA member, played baseball in the Southern States Athletic Conference from 2010-15 and in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference for many years before that. Hopefully, the Blazers will continue their long-standing rivalry with William Carey, still an NAIA member. BU’s 2016 schedule hasn’t been posted. … The Laurel Black Cats semi-pro team will host the Magnolia State Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Boston Park in Laurel. The Black Cats are 16-3 against a schedule that includes teams from Meridian, Jackson, Tougaloo, Perry County and the Gulf Coast. The Black Cats, owned and managed by Jody P. Babineaux, are carrying on the tradition of the independent Negro Leagues team of the same name that barnstormed the South beginning in the 1930s. … The Hattiesburg Black Sox, one of the state’s iconic semi-pro clubs, did not field a team this year for the first time since 1941.