18 Jun

eye on …

Patrick Lee, former William Carey University standout, took a winding road to reach affiliated baseball. Currently playing outfield — and faring well — for the Low-Class A Lakeland Flying Tigers, Lee wasn’t drafted out of high school — Resurrection Catholic in Pascagoula — or following a five-year stint at Carey, where he batted .335, stole 74 bases and played in the NAIA World Series in 2023. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Lee got a spot in the MLB Draft League last summer and hit .279 with 29 stolen bases. The Draft League is for players hoping to catch the eye of scouts ahead of the draft, but Lee didn’t get a call last summer. This spring, he signed with Evansville in the independent Frontier League and after batting .410 in 11 games there got an offer from the Detroit Tigers. He signed on May 25. Through 16 games at Lakeland, Lee is batting .289 with a homer, 11 runs, nine steals and a .467 OBP. At 24, he is a little old for the Low-A level and might be in line for a bump to High-A soon. P.S. Willie Joe Garry Jr., a Pascagoula High product, is currently playing for Schaumberg in the Frontier League, batting .191 in five games. Garry, drafted out of ‘Goula by Minnesota in 2018, spent six years in the Twins’ system, reaching the Double-A level briefly. The 24-year-old outfielder, a career .206 batter, was hitting .132 at High-A Cedar Rapids when he was released on May 21. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Dallas Woolfolk, a Hernando native, is also on the Schaumberg roster.

24 May

riding high again

A season that began with high expectations — a No. 4 national ranking — for William Carey University reached a low point on March 7, when the Crusaders were 11-9 and no longer ranked. Flash to May 24, and Carey is back on a high, riding an 11-game win streak and seeded seventh in the NAIA World Series at Lewiston, Idaho. The Crusaders (37-14) were slated to play Indiana Southeast on Friday night. The sluggish start this season wasn’t totally unexpected, as Carey lost some key players (Patrick Lee, Bobby Lada, A.J. Stinson, et al.) from last year’s World Series team. “We’ve got three new guys in there, and it’s a learning experience for them,” longtime coach Bobby Halford said in a school release after a loss in the season opener on Feb. 1. “And some of the older guys just didn’t play well tonight. But that’s baseball. It’s a long season and I think we’ll be fine.” They are just that. Led by third baseman R.J. Stinson, a Ferriss Trophy finalist, and closer John Snyder, Carey won the SSAC Tournament and its NAIA Opening Round tourney without dropping a game. Stinson, the leadoff batter, is batting .403 with eight homers, 50 RBIs and 71 runs. Bailee Hendon has 10 homers and 58 RBIs. Jake Lycette has driven in 60 runs; Bridley Thomas has scored 48; and Jerod Williams has 16 steals. On the mound, Luke Lycette is 7-1 with a 4.30 ERA. Last year’s ace, Andrew Shirah, is 8-4 despite a 5.15, and Dario Herrera is 6-1. At the back end is Snyder, who has 13 saves, a 1.23 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just seven walks in 29 1/3 innings. In the dugout is Halford, who has over 1,300 wins. It appears to be a team that can bring home a national title, a feat last accomplished in 1969.

20 May

trophy time

The Ferriss Trophy has been around since 2004, and it’s become kind of a big deal to be named the best college player in a state where baseball is quite a big deal. The list of winners is impressive. Nine of them are still active in the pro game, four of them currently playing in the big leagues, two of them owning World Series rings. The 2024 award — honoring former Delta State coach Boo Ferriss and presented by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum — will be given out today at a ceremony at the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia. The finalists are Brett Sanchez (Belhaven), Dakota Jordan (Mississippi State), Ethan Lege (Ole Miss), Dalton McIntyre (Southern Miss) and R.J. Stinson (William Carey). The oldest active winner is Drew Pomeranz, the 2010 recipient from Ole Miss. Currently pitching in Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the big left-hander was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft and has made 289 MLB appearances, winning a World Series with Boston in 2018. Nick Sandlin (Cleveland), Brent Rooker (Oakland), Hunter Renfroe (Kansas City) and Chris Stratton (KC) are in The Show. Stratton won a ring with Texas last year; Rooker was an All-Star in 2023; Renfroe has 180 career home runs; and Sandlin has a career ERA of 2.99 over four seasons. Two-time Ferriss winner Jake Mangum, the former MSU star, probably should have been in the big leagues by now; he is batting .329 in Triple-A for Tampa Bay and has a .290 career average. Last year’s winner, Kemp Alderman of Ole Miss, a second-round draft pick last July, is currently on the injured list in A-ball in Miami’s system. Tanner Hall, the 2022 winner from USM, has spent most of this season on the shelf, having made just three appearances in Minnesota’s system. Tanner Allen, the 2021 winner at MSU, is in Double-A in Miami’s chain and batting .250 as a regular outfielder. Among the 2024 finalists, Jordan is the highest rated MLB draft prospect, checking in at No. 24 on the latest mlb.com list. Each of the five is well-credentialed.

16 May

double feature

They combined to throw 14 innings and allowed just one run on nine hits and a walk while striking out 17 batters. The Nos. 2 and 3 prospects in Atlanta’s organization, Hurston Waldrep and Spencer Schwellenbach, started Wednesday’s doubleheader for the Mississippi Braves and showed off the stuff that may land them in the major league club’s bullpen in the not-too-distant future. Waldrep, the former Southern Miss standout and a first-round pick in 2023, pitched all eight innings in Game 1 in his seventh start for the Double-A M-Braves. Regularly hitting 93-94 mph (per the Trustmark Park scoreboard), the right-hander (now 2-3, 3.32 ERA) scattered six hits in a 2-1 win against Biloxi. He struck out eight, including the side in the seventh inning, and skillfully pitched around some trouble, benefitting from a terrific defensive play by shortstop Nacho Alvarez that ended the fifth inning. The M-Braves won on a walk-off sac fly by Tyler Tolve in the first extra inning. Then came Schwellenbach, a second-round pick out of Nebraska (where he also played shortstop) in 2021 whose start in pro ball was delayed by injury. Making his Double-A debut, the right-hander threw six shutout innings, touching 97 mph while allowing three hits, one walk and punching out nine. He struck out two of the first three batters he faced. Schwellenbach was 2-1, 2.53, in six starts at High-Class A Rome before Wednesday’s promotion. He went 5-2 in A-ball in 2023 after not pitching (following Tommy John surgery) in 2021 and ’22. The light-hitting M-Braves scored the lone run of Game 2 on an RBI single by Yolbert Sanchez in the second inning. P.S. Congratulations to William Carey University, which punched its ticket to the NAIA World Series on Wednesday by winning the NAIA regional in Hattiesburg. The NAIA World Series begins May 24 in Lewiston, Idaho.

15 May

winners and losers

After routing Milligan (Tenn.) 24-5 on Tuesday, William Carey University is on the brink of a second straight trip to the NAIA World Series. Carey, 2-0 in the Opening Round tourney at Hattiesburg, is slated to play the winner of today’s Milligan-Mid-America Christian (Okla.) elimination game tonight in the championship round. The Crusaders need a win there to advance. Ferriss Trophy finalist R.J. Stinson provided spark in Tuesday’s victory, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs at the top of the order, while 3-hole hitter Jake Lycette homered, drove in five runs and scored three. … East Central Community College, ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division II, lost to Meridian CC on Tuesday in the first round of the Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville and faces Hinds today to stay alive in the regional. Host and second-ranked Pearl River beat Hinds on Tuesday and plays a winners bracket game today against No. 3 LSU-Eunice, which beat Jones College. Eighth-ranked Jones faces elimination today against Meridian. … Blue Mountain Christian’s season ended with a second straight loss in the NAIA Opening Round event at Shreveport, La. The Toppers (31-23) gave up 34 runs in their two losses.

10 May


Belhaven University is sitting pretty in the CCS Tournament. The NCAA Division III Blazers won their opener Thursday and have ace Brett Sanchez primed to go today against LaGrange (Ga.) in a winners bracket game at Maryville, Ky. With Colton Sylvester (7-1) tossing a six-hitter and Eli Britt and Hunter Harrell combining for six RBIs, second-seeded Belhaven whipped Huntingdon (Ala.) 8-1 Thursday. … William Carey University is the No. 2 seed behind Mid-America Christian (Okla.) in the four-team NAIA Opening Round tournament the Crusaders are hosting next week at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Blue Mountain Christian is the fifth seed in the five-team Shreveport Bracket hosted by LSU-Shreveport. The top-seeded Pilots feature several Mississippi juco players, including Hinds Community College alum Vantrel Reed, their top hitter at .393 with eight homers and 58 RBIs. … Jackson State’s Myles White was named the SWAC co-hitter of the week after going 9-for-15 with eight RBIs and four runs in the Tigers’ sweep of Mississippi Valley State last weekend. White, who went 0-for-4 in a 5-0 loss at nationally ranked Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday, is batting .346 with 31 RBIs and 36 runs for the 30-17 Tigers. … MUW’s season ended Tuesday with an upset loss to Westminster (Mo.) in in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament at Fulton, Mo. The Owls finished 22-15. … The New York Yankees have claimed ex-Mississippi State pitcher Colby White on waivers from Tampa Bay. White had a 17.61 ERA in nine appearances at Triple-A Durham; the right-hander, whose career ERA is 2.83, missed all of 2022 and a chunk of 2023 after arm surgery. … MSU product J.P. France, recently demoted to Triple-A by Houston, reportedly has a shoulder injury that may sideline him for a lengthy period. An 11-game winner in 2023, he was 0-3 with a 7.46 this season when the Astros sent him down. … Former Southern Miss star Matt Wallner, sent to the minors after a 2-for-25 start with Minnesota, hit his fifth homer for Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday. The lefty slugger is batting .353 with four homers in May. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Jacob Gonzalez, the first player drafted — 15th overall — out of the state in 2023, went 2-for-4 Thursday to boost his average to .306 for High-Class A Winston-Salem in the Chicago White Sox’s chain. Gonzalez, a shortstop, has three homers, 12 RBIs and five steals.

05 May

blast from past

Joining a list that includes Mark McGwire can be pretty impressive, at least when it comes to hitting dingers. Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker blasted two home runs in one inning on Saturday, becoming the first Oakland player to do so since McGwire in 1996. Rooker, born in 1994, told mlb.com he grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan in Germantown, Tenn., and followed McGwire during the slugger’s time with the Redbirds. “Being able to do anything the same as him is a huge accomplishment, and something that’s really cool for me,” Rooker said. Rooker’s bombs came in a 10-run third inning that propelled the surprising A’s to a 20-4 win over visiting Miami. Oakland is 17-17 with six straight victories. Rooker, a 2023 All-Star who also homered on Friday, is batting .240 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 22 games, having spent 10 days on the injured list last month. As a BTW: Ex-Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes hit his first homer of the year for the lowly Marlins, 9-26. Also overshadowed by Rooker’s exploits was a four-hit game by another former Bulldogs masher, Nathaniel Lowe, who led Texas to a 15-4 rout of Kansas City. Lowe started the season on the IL and is batting .333 with a homer and four RBIs in 13 games since his return. He picked up two of those RBIs on Saturday. “I’m three weeks late to the party,” he told mlb.com, “so I have to get going.” The Rangers, 18-16 and second in the American League West to Seattle, visit division rival Oakland for a four-game series beginning Monday. P.S. William Carey University beat Blue Mountain Christian for the SSAC Tournament championship, the third tourney title in the last four years for coach Bobby Halford, who has a shelf full of trophies over his 39-year career. The Crusaders (34-14 with eight straight wins) will host an NAIA Opening Round tourney next week. BMC also gets an NAIA bid. … Delta State won an elimination game in the GSC Tournament and will play again today against Lee in Oxford, Ala. … Hinds Community College swept host Northwest Mississippi CC in their MACCC playoff series and advances to next week’s NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. No. 1-ranked East Central, No. 13 Jones and Meridian all won their best-of-3 series openers on Saturday and will play again today.

03 May

to the victors

A couple weeks ago, in Hattiesburg, Blue Mountain Christian took a regular season series from longtime rival William Carey University for the first time ever. On Saturday, in Jackson, Tenn., the two will meet again with much more on the line. With wins Thursday in conference championship pool play, Carey and BMC have clinched berths in Saturday’s Southern States Athletic Conference title game. Both also have clinched bids to the NAIA Tournament. BMC, the No. 8 seed in the league championship event, beat top-seeded Faulkner (Ala.) on Wednesday and followed that up with a win against Loyola of New Orleans on Thursday. Carey, the No. 2 seed, is 2-0 in pool play with wins against Thomas U. and Middle Georgia State. BMC plays Mobile and Carey gets Point U. in meaningless pool-play games today. For the record, Carey leads the all-time series with BMC 33-8. … BMC’s Arderrius Townsend was named the SSAC’s player of the year and was joined on the all-conference team by fellow Toppers Hayden Redding and Chris Smith. R.J. Stinson and John Snyder were first-team picks from Carey. The Toppers had two Gold Glove winners: second baseman Josiah Rivera and outfielder Tyrese Roberson.

21 Apr

numbers of note

1,000 — Career wins for Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, who has notched 900 of those W’s with the Rebels. The milestone came in Game 2 of a Saturday doubleheader at Georgia, which the Rebels won 3-2 to salvage a game in the SEC series. Ethan Lege homered and Brayden Jones delivered some clutch relief work for UM (21-8, 6-12).
20 — Wins for Belhaven University in coach Andrew Gipson’s first season. The Blazers split a CCS twinbill at Huntingdon (Ala.) on Saturday, getting win No. 20 in Game 1 behind the pitching of Colton Sylvester, who is 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 games. Staff ace Brett Sanchez (5-2, 2.86) won the series opener on Friday for BU (20-14, 9-5).
1 — All-time series wins for Blue Mountain Christian against SSAC rival William Carey University. After pounding the 25th-ranked Crusaders 19-5 in Friday’s series opener in Hattiesburg, the Toppers rallied to win Game 1 of a Saturday doubleheader 11-9. Ammon Murphy threw 5 1/3 innings of stellar relief for BMC (27-18, 11-16). Carey (27-14, 17-10) won the series finale 10-7 and leads the all-time series 33-8.
13 — Losses in the last 14 games for Millsaps College, which was swept in three games this weekend at Birmingham-Southern in its last SAA series of the season. Millsaps (14-24, 4-17) has one regular season game left — at home Tuesday vs. LeTourneau — before meeting top-seeded Centre next weekend in the opening round of the SAA playoffs. Centre swept the Majors in a three-game set last weekend at Twenty Field.
32 — Runs allowed by Delta State pitching in a three-game sweep at the hands of conference foe Lee University (Tenn.). The Statesmen are 25-19, 16-11 Gulf South, despite a negative run differential (286 scored, 292 allowed). The team’s staff ERA is 5.83, which actually ranks middle-of-the-pack in the heavy-hitting GSC.

06 Apr

trending …

Hot: Delta State has won six straight games, beating Christian Brothers 9-7 at Ferriss Field in Cleveland on Friday. The Statesmen (22-14, 13-6 GSC) rallied from 7-1 down to go ahead on three-run homer in the eighth inning by Dylan Dendy. Noah Magee got the last four outs, all via strikeout. … William Carey University has won five straight and 12 of 13 after whipping Brewton-Parker 11-4 at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Jake Lycette and Bailee Hendon drove in three runs each for the Crusaders (23-10, 13-6 SSAC).
Not: Ole Miss fell to top-ranked Arkansas 8-3 at Fayetteville and has lost six in a row, including five straight in SEC play. The Rebels (18-14, 3-8) have surrendered 59 runs during the losing skid. … Mississippi College lost to Valdosta State 7-5 at Frierson Field in Clinton and has dropped 10 of its last 12. Starter Holland Townes (3-4) yielded seven hits, four walks, two HBPs and five runs in 5 2/3 innings for the Choctaws (14-18, 6-13 GSC), who have a staff ERA of 6.35.
Friday firsts in MLB: Former Mississippi State star Justin Foscue got his first big league at-bat and flied out for Texas in its romp against Houston. … Ex-MSU standout Brent Rooker, now with Oakland, hit his first homer of the season in another loss by the A’s. … Ole Miss alum James McArthur got his first save of 2024 and former MSU star Chris Stratton his first win as Kansas City beat the Chicago White Sox.
P.S. The Legacy League, a wood-bat developmental league, will begin play in June, 2025, at Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium, according to a press release from Tim Bennett, who operates the Hank Aaron Sports Academy at Smith-Wills. The Legacy League will have 10 teams, comprised of college players as well as players from other countries, in its inaugural season, per the announcement. The teams will represent local communities and play a 40-game schedule. The league website lists Dusty Baker, Andruw Jones, Brian Jordan, Ralph Garr and Deuce McAllister among its owners/members. There are a large number of college summer leagues around the country, including the Cape Cod League, Texas Collegiate League, Coastal Plain League, Appalachian League, Perfect Game League, Southeast Collegiate League, Valley League and the New Albany-based Cotton States League, which once operated in Jackson.