After nearly two years of preparation, Curt Fowler is eager for Blue Mountain College to play some baseball.
“I’m getting excited,” said of BMC’s historic opener – Friday, Feb. 4 against Belhaven University at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson. The Toppes and Blazers will play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday. “We’ve been building for almost two years now to get this program off the ground, and we’re all just ready to play.”
Fowler, a highly successful coach at New Albany High School before being named the Toppers coach in June 2009, says he feels good overall about the fledgling program, “but in a case like this, you just really don’t know.
“I do know that we’ve got some guys who can play several positions and we’ve got good speed in the outfield,” Fowler says. “I expect our top five pitchers to be really competitive. They’ll challenge hitters and throw a lot of strikes. After that first five, though, we going to need some of our younger players to step up.”
BMC signed several junior college players for this first team – by design. “We’re fortunate in that Mississippi has some strong junior college programs,” Fowler said. “We signed 14 juco players and they’ve come and shown the leadership we need on and off the field. It’s easy to see that they’ve played at a higher level.”
The Toppers’ leading pitchers are John Paul Barber from Nettleton and Southwest Mississippi Community College, B.J. Johnson from Itawamba AHS and Itawamba Community College, Sam Cruse and Blake Jolly, both from South Pontotoc and ICC, and Zane Treadway from East Union and Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Offensively, Fowler said early leadership is coming from: Channing Walker, a utility player from Tupelo and ICC; Seth Kennedy, a left fielder from Tishomingo County and NEMCC; Dustin Lunn, a catcher from Pontotoc and ICC; Joel Rich, a designated hitter and first baseman from Southaven and Northwest Mississippi Community College; and Nate Bell, a first baseman from Jackson, Michigan and Jackson Community College.
Like most every other program in the South, it’s been difficult for BMC to get in much outdoor practice. Fowler says liked what he saw, most of the time, during fall practice, though.
“We had stretches were we looked really good, and stretches where we looked like a first-year team,” he said. “I guess we’ll know pretty soon where we stand.”