South Mississippi baseball teams aren’t strangers to peculiar schedules.
The Biloxi Shuckers endured a 54-game road trip back in 2015.
And of course the predictably unpredictable Coast weather always does a number on high school baseball schedules.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College played its entire 46-game schedule on the road last year, essentially touring South Mississippi, while Ken “Curly” Farris Field underwent major renovations.
It appears the Bulldogs will have to take their show on the road once again in 2017 — at the very least for the early portion of the home schedule — as construction has lasted longer than originally expected.
MGCCC announced Wednesday that its first “home” doubleheader against Southwest Tennessee will be played Saturday at D’Iberville. MGCCC will also travel to Baton Rouge Community College next Tuesday instead of playing in Perkinston. Next Friday’s doubleheader against Mineral Area College is also slated to be played at the Shuckers’ MGM Park. That set isn’t due to the renovations.
Despite all of the shuffling, MGCCC coach Rodney Batts is keeping a positive perspective.
“It’s going to be a state of the art stadium. I think it’ll be one of the nicest ones in the state. We see it every day in practice. We see it unfold and the progress they’re making,” Batts said, power tools intermittently providing the soundtrack to Thursday’s interview. “We’re certainly excited about that finish date and when we’ll be able to get in it.”
A year ago the Bulldogs played “home games” at MGM Park, William Carey and D’Iberville High due to the construction, which started September, 2015. Gulf Coast still managed a 25-21 season and a 14-6 “home” record.
“Our team held up to that really well and played on the road all year. If you have to play on the road and play at MGM Park, that’s not too bad,” Batts said. “They really enjoyed that. It was a really good atmosphere for them and our fans, too. We got a little tired getting on that bus, but I think it affected us coaches being older a little bit more than it did the players.
“It was different for them; different for all of us just having to play all our games on the road.”
The Bulldogs believe the stadium will be well worth the wait. The renovation essentially rebuilt the entire facility, which will now feature 476 seats, including 66 chairbacks. Farris Field will also have a berm down the third base line, plus a new concession stand and press box. The players will probably notice the spacious dugouts most. Both dugouts have more than enough room.
Gulf Coast alum and D’Iberville coach Cragin Gilbert sees plenty of positives in helping out the Bulldogs.
“It’s always nice to bring a college program in,” he said. “Not only for your kids to see how a college team prepares for games but to be a community field. Gulf Coast is connected to D’Iberville just like a lot of Coast schools.
“I see it more as a benefit to high school kids to see the approach of the game, the batting practice, the way college players are mentally prepared for the games of the day.”
Prior to Saturday’s noon doubleheader at D’Iberville the Warriors will hold a hit-a-thon and black-and-gold intrasquad Friday night starting at 5 p.m.
The evening will include prizes, like a 14-foot Alumacraft boat. A portion of the proceeds from Friday night will go to the American Heart Association.
MGCCC February schedule
Feb. 8: at Alabama Southern C.C.: L, 10-9; W, 7-5
Feb. 11: *Southwest Tenn. C.C. at D’Iberville High, noon
Feb. 14: *At Baton Rouge C.C., 3 p.m.
Feb. 17: *Mineral Area College at MGM Park, 3 p.m.
Feb. 25: Dyersburg State C.C., 2 p.m.
Feb. 25: Kaskaskia College, 5 p.m.
Feb. 28: Alabama Southern C.C., 3 p.m.
* - Denotes doubleheader