the path ahead
East Central Community College, champion of possibly the toughest region in the country, was given the No. 3 seed in the upcoming NJCAA Division II World Series and will open tournament play on Saturday against 6-seed Southeastern (Iowa) in Enid, Okla. This is the first trip to the juco World Series for the Warriors (37-18), who would love to follow Pearl River’s lead and come home with the national championship. The Wildcats won it all in 2022. ECCC coach Neal Holliman was named the MACCC coach of the year, and two of his players, Eli Collins and Mo Little, made first-team all-conference. Itawamba’s Will Verdung, who hit .389 with 15 homers this season, was named the MACCC player of the year, and Meridian’s Cole Boswell (11-0, 2.00 ERA) was named pitcher of the year. Both have signed with Southern Miss. Meridian, which finished second to ECCC in the regular season, had four players named to the MACCC first team, with Dalton McIntyre, Blaise Priester and Gunnar Dennis joining Boswell. Pearl River had three: Logan Walters, Cooper Cooksey and Will Passeau. Hinds had two players selected: Connor Chisolm and Dylan Coleman. Also on the first team were Gulf Coast’s Sean Smith, Northeast’s Khi Holliday and Jones’ Beau Bryans. P.S. Baseball America’s latest projected NCAA Tournament field has USM going to Baton Rouge as a No. 2 seed behind LSU. The Golden Eagles (37-16) will begin their chase for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title on Wednesday vs. James Madison at Montgomery, Ala.