One of the biggest losers in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak has been the sport of baseball.
Yet, there’s one league in South Mississippi that’s on the verge of doing something even before Major League Baseball does it and that’s play ball.
The Deep South Summer Collegiate Baseball League is doing all of this as a first year start up in the midst of a global pandemic, just a few weeks away from first pitch for the first time. Deep South Founder Colton Caver said, “When I first started this a month and a half ago, two months ago, we were expecting four teams, 80 kids, nice and simple. A month and a half, two months later, double what we expected.”
A simple case study of supply and demand, the Deep South Summer Collegiate League is supplying hope and the chance to play baseball when there’s currently a larger-than-life demand for both. “College baseball in Mississippi, especially in the South, has been needing something like this for a very long time. And unfortunately, COVID-19 has been an opportunity to make that happen.”
During a time when other summer leagues are folding up due to the virus, Deep South has the distinct advantage of proximity and not having to house anyone from out of town.
The finished product will be more than 150 players with college eligibility, ranging from high school seniors signed to play JUCO to NCAA Division I. Take for example, Pascagoula High School and MGCCC alum now South Alabama first baseman Alden Davis. “Oh, I mean it’s exciting not only for me but for other players, getting the chance to play baseball again. You get locked up in your house for so long months and you get a Tweet or something saying there’s a league coming up in Hattiesburg, and you want to jump all over it.”
Starting June 13th, the eight new teams will play one another three times each around the Pine Belt and on the Gulf Coast, leading up to a championship series in late July. PRCC Second baseman and West Harrison Alum Taylor Woodcock said, “I know myself, I like playing to win. So having a championship game and an all-star game and all that, it’s something to actually play for instead of playing in a league where you’re just playing against each other to play. I think the championship game really sets it off.”
Already sponsored by Marucci Sports, Deep South has a clear path to success, if given the green light to take the diamond.
One remaining obstacle is the current limitation of social gatherings of more than 20 people outside. Another is the MHSAA’s pending decision on its June 1st restart which would allow games to be played at local high schools.
But assuming those are both when’s and not if’s Caver says it is time. “I’m just happy we can do it for the kids. As a baseball coach, I’m just used to baseball 24/7, and it’s kind of actually humbling not being able to have baseball. You kind of get used to it every day and once it’s gone, you kind of think back and wonder why did I take it for granted? But it’s going to be an awesome experience for me, for the players, the fans and everybody involved.”
League founder and Gulfport Assistant Coach Colton Caver will be one of the skippers alongside Southern Miss alum and Cleveland Indians Minor League Pitcher Kirk McCarty.