Deep South Summer Collegiate League underway
The coronavirus obviously messed up a lot of things for a lot of people.
And yet in the midst of a global pandemic, one thing that didn’t get messed up is a brand new baseball organization in South Mississippi.
The Deep South Summer Collegiate League needed a lot of things to go right to even get on the diamond this summer.
But now that live baseball is back on the diamond, there’s at least one thing that is going right in this crazy world.
“In the words of Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come.”
Founder Colton Caver said, “Very much so. A lot of appreciation for the game. I’ve had people all over all the way from Wisconsin to California to South Florida email me or call me and just happy that there’s baseball.”
Almost as if it never left, baseball is here to stay for the rest of the summer at both Pearl River Community College and Columbia High School as part of the 73 game regular season schedule put together by league founder Colton Caver. “It’s a lot bigger than what I thought it was going to be. When we first planned it, we were thinking four teams. Now we’re double that at eight.”
Overall 152 college players playing seven-inning games ranging from incoming junior college freshmen to NCAA Division I who all just went more than three months without live game action. ECCC Pitcher Gage Tufnell said, “Hated it. The worst. The worst feeling of just having to sit there at home and missing it. But like I said, I’m just glad to be back. Just glad I have that feeling again.
South Alabama First baseman Alden Davis said, “Yeah, I mean we’re getting to play and the Major Leagues aren’t even getting to play. So I think that’s special that we get to go out here and do the thing we love.”
Even Cleveland Indians minor league pitcher and Southern Miss alum Kirk McCarty, the skipper of McCarty’s Mashers, is trying his hand at coaching until he’s able to rejoin the Double A Akron RubberDucks. “As I talk to people in the Indians organization and kind of tell them what I’m doing, I’m like well I’m coaching this league that’s popped up and they’re like what? Cause a lot of places across the country aren’t given this opportunity. I think just with our environment down here and just being more rural we can go and play. And big cities, they’re still having to hunker down a little bit and they’re not getting to see baseball like we are. So it’s definitely a blessing and it’s a lot of fun.”
Perhaps the biggest draw of the Deep South League is proximity. “I was going to try to stay local, but thankfully this league popped up.”
“Beats better going to Canada for sure.”
“A bunch of us were going to Canada this summer, so this is a big step because we don’t have to travel very far and competition is very good.”
Competition so good it’s worthy of crowning a champion in late July. Still plenty of time to shake off the rust. “Rust? Oh, I definitely had rust that first game. First batter I faced, beamed him. I was like ugh. It’s alright. I guess I’ve got to set the tempo, you know what I’m saying?
“I’ve got to get better. I’ll tell you, Gator Berry was rounding third the other day and I think I almost tripped him. And I was like after the game, he fell down. We had gotten into a situation. I was like what happened? He was like well. I was like was I a little close to you? And he was like yeah, I think you were a little close to me and you weren’t really doing anything so I didn’t really know if I was going home or not. So that’s a part of my game I’ve got to work on.”
At the conclusion of the championship series, the league will wrap up no later than July 31st.