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franklin county times

Palmer gets an eye full at State Games

By By Marty Stamper
June 22, 2001
If you've got to sit through a two-hour, ten-minute rain delay at the State Games of Mississippi baseball tournament, you might want to have some good company.
Corky Palmer put Meridian Community College on the map as far as baseball is concerned when he led the Eagles to four Region 23 championships (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996) and a runner-up finish in the 1996 NJCAA Division I national tournament at Grand Junction, Colo.
He then left for the University of Southern Mississippi where he is now head baseball coach.
While at MCC, Palmer was instrumental in the State Games of Mississippi baseball tournament in its early stages. It played a big role in his recruiting as the participants got to see MCC's facilities as well as being scouted by Eagle coaches.
Now at USM, it's still an annual part of Palmer's summer recruiting whether in person or by one of his assistants, two of whom (Lane Burroughs and Scott Berry) played or coached at MCC.
The baseball tournament is strictly for rising juniors and seniors.
"It's always been good for the junior college and the state college schools," Palmer said of the State Games baseball. "There's no telling how many guys have been signed out of this.
"It's so great because now you have an early signing in Division I and in junior college. Anybody wants to see somebody in advance."
Having most of the top underclassmen in one place makes it easy on the college coaches.
"You don't have to travel. You come to one place and bear down for three or four days," Palmer said.
"We've signed kids at Southern from the State Games where we've watched them for three days. Mainly coach Burroughs recruits this area. We'll see them for three days here and we'll never see them again because we usually see what we want to see when you play three or four games in a week. You won't get to see that many games if you went all summer."
Brighter days ahead?
Palmer suffered just the second losing season of his college coaching career this spring at USM. He doesn't care for a third any time soon.
"We had a tough year," Palmer said. "We're going to be young next year, but we've got a good pitching staff back. We'll build around that.
"We've had two good signing classes because we're fixing to open up a brand new locker room facility that's state of the art. It's something we've needed tremendously. I think it's going to enhance our ability to get good players."
On Polk's return to MSU
While USM didn't make it to an NCAA Regional, the Golden Eagles split two games with Super Regional participant Mississippi State. That's B.P… Before Polk.
Palmer says he's glad to have Ron Polk back in the state.
"He's an icon in baseball in the state," Palmer said. "He's probably the No. 1 reason that baseball has improved so much in this state.
"There's so many good high school baseball coaches now. He's the direct cause of that. There's not any more football coaches coaching baseball. There's guys that know the game and like the game coaching baseball."
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.