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Prep baseball season arrives

By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
Feb. 15, 2002
In an effort to get the baseball season off to a big start, Meridian head coach Vince McLemore came up with the idea of having a Lauderdale County Baseball Tournament.
Today, his idea comes to fruition with the six-team classic that will feature six games over two days at John Moss Field here in Meridian.
Lauderdale County's five public schools along with invitee Neshoba Central will be included in the first annual Coca Cola Lauderdale County Baseball Tournament.
When asked about the possible inclusion of Lamar School for next year to make it a tournament which would involve all six baseball-playing high schools in the county, McLemore said that decision would rest with the MHS administration.
Action starts today at 4 p.m. when defending Class 3A state champion West Lauderdale takes on Neshoba Central. At 7 p.m., the host Wildcats face Northeast Lauderdale.
On Saturday morning at 10, Northeast will battle Southeast Lauderdale. The 1 p.m. game will pit Southeast against Clarkdale. At 4 p.m., Clarkdale takes on West Lauderdale. The action concludes with the 7 p.m. game between Meridian and Neshoba Central.
Meridian, which went 25-13 and advanced to the South State 5A series, returns seven starters and their top three pitchers from last season.
Ace John Iverson is expected to start the opener. Iverson was 9-3 with a 4.12 earned run average. He hit .345 with 33 RBIs in 2001.
Either Jason Spinks (6-1, 3.52 in 2001) or Tyler Maxwell (5-3, 3.18 ERA) will go against Neshoba Central. Torry Bates could also see action on the mound.
Returning first baseman John Stevens directs the Wildcat attack. He batted .389 with 21 RBIs last year. Right fielder Randy McMillian is coming off .352 season with 14 stoen bases.
Northeast Lauderdale will be paced by pitcher Matt Locke and Drew Anderson. Anderson hit .421 last season and had four home runs.
West Lauderdale is young with only one senior starter but could be potent. Trent Posey, the winning pitcher in the Knights' 3A state championship's final game, will likely start against Neshoba Central. Van Wilson, the team's returning right fielder, led the Knights in batting last season.
Clarkdale was 25-8 last year and will be led by three returning starters in Brandon Mabry, Jeffrey Stokes and Jake Gray.
Southeast is another young team with only two starters back from last year's 9-10 team. Michael Anderson is back at catcher while Jay Butler will anchor the infield at shortstop.