Don’t be confused when looking at the roster of the Booneville Braves, as the Senior Legion team boasts several names from Union County, including their head coach, Shane Sanderson.
One of three area teams, the Braves work to give area players a chance at playing summer ball while giving them the exposure and experience they will need to make it to the college level.
“The main purpose is to get some kids either already playing at or want to play at Northeast a chance at playing college ball,” Sanderson said. “I went to Northeast and played there, and I want them to be successful, so just making sure the kids have a place to play is most important.”
The Braves feature six Union County athletes, as New Albany’s Drew Dodds, Sawyer Wheatley, Drew Wray and Cory Smith fill the roster, along with Myrtle’s Justin Jordan and East Union’s Jimmy Marshall. All of these locals had a chance to play in the county as the Braves hosted the Tupelo 49ers Wednesday night.
“We wanted to play a game over here because we have several kids on the team from the area this year,” Sanderson explained. “We’re just trying to play on a new field while drawing some interest to Senior Legion ball.”
The Braves have had success in the past as they were the runners up in the state tournament in 2008 and have notable alumni, such as Jackson State’s M.J. McWhorter and Millsap’s Will Hawkins, who both had successful 2009 campaigns at their respective schools.
Sanderson also noted that Senior Legion and the BNA Bank Cotton States League serve the same purpose, giving kids who are serious about playing at the collegiate level a chance to do so.
“We’ll play 34 to 40 games each season, and we travel as well,” Sanderson explained. “The kids love it, as we’ll go to Alabama and Tennessee, becuase you don’t want to always play the same teams. It’s a long season, but if you’re serious about playing, you love it.”
The Braves will play throughout the summer and will participate in the state tournament at the end of July with the hopes of taking the title and advancing to the national tournament.