POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River baseball team now knows how the road back to Enid, Oklahoma, will look. The reigning Region XXIII Champions and 2019 NJCAA College World Series participants announced their 2020 schedule on Thursday.
The Wildcats' season consists of 23 doubleheaders with trips to Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama.
"I think we play in the toughest Division II conference in the country. What's important is to make sure we challenge ourselves early in the non-conference to ensure we're prepared for conference because there are no easy opponents," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "If you look at our schedule, we get to open up at home, which is something I enjoy doing because we have as good of an atmosphere as you'll find anywhere in the country."
The Wildcats' non-conference schedule will feature tough teams from throughout the region. PRCC opens at Dub Herring Park with a four-game stretch against Bevill State (Feb. 16), Coastal Alabama-South (Feb. 19) and Baton Rouge (Feb. 23). After visiting Nunez on Feb. 26, PRCC hosts Illinois College on March 1 and Coastal Alabama-East on March 3. Pearl River finishes on the road, at Northwest Florida on March 7 and Spring Hill College on March 11.
"They're a perennial powerhouse in Division I, so they'll prepare us as well as anybody can," Avalon said of NWF.
PRCC's final non-conference game comes in the middle of MACJC action as they visit Baton Rouge on March 24.
The Wildcats will open and close their league slate on the road. PRCC plays at Northeast on March 14 before hosting five straight MACJC foes: Co-Lin (March 18), Itawamba (March 21), Meridian (March 28), Gulf Coast (April 1) and Delta (April 4). After a visit to East Central on April 7, Pearl River's final two MACJC home series are against East Mississippi (April 10) and Southwest (April 15).
The toughest part of PRCC's schedule will be the final five-series stretch, where the Wildcats visit Holmes (April 18), Hinds (April 21), Coahoma (April 25), Jones (April 28) and Northwest (May 1).
"It's not a favorable schedule, but it will test our toughness and that's something I think we're going to try to prepare our guys for," Avalon said. "We have to know that down the homestretch we're going to have to go to some tough places and play some quality teams.
"But at the end of the day it's 14 games on the road and 14 games at home. That's how we're going to look at it. It's all equal in the end so hopefully we take care of our business."
Every series except the doubleheader at Spring Hill will feature a nine-inning and seven-inning game. The SHC doubleheader will consist of two seven-inning contests.
EVOLUTION OF THE DUB
All home games will be played at The Dub, which for the second straight winter is undergoing major upgrades. A year ago, PRCC added a turf infield, 200 chairback seats and two luxury boxes flanking a new press box and broadcast booth. This year, the Wildcats are adding 100 chairback seats down each baseline for a total of 400 spacious maroon. The new seats will be covered by two canopies to protect fans from the South Mississippi sun. The team is also in the process of building new berms that will be flush against both dugouts and provide additional seating for fans and play areas for children.
"This is Phase 2 of the project that was started two years ago with Dr. Adam Breerwood, Coach Jeff Long and Mr. Jeff Dungan's vision and support," Avalon said. "It's going to be phenomenal. The thing that will be unique about our place is every chair will be premium; every seat will be a chairback and covered.
"In junior college baseball it's tough to find a stadium across the country that's going to equal that — and we haven't even mentioned the suites, which are special.
"It's going to be an impressive place to watch a baseball game and there won't be a bad seat in the house."
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home games will be streamed at PRCCMedia.com/gold. All MACJC games and select non-conference competitions will also be carried on WRJW 1320 AM, WRJWRadio.com and the WRJW App.
Pearl River heads into winter break with eight Wildcats already signed to play at four-year programs in 2021:
- Kole Alford (McComb; North Pike) — Mississippi State
- Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) — Southeastern Louisiana
- Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) — Southern Miss
- Reid Golemon (Moselle; South Jones) — Louisiana-Monroe
- Cade Hodges (Brookhaven; Loyd Star) — Louisiana Tech
- Britt McKay (Wiggins; Ocean Springs) — Louisiana-Monroe
- Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion) — Southeastern Louisiana
- Bryson Ware (Gluckstadt; Germantown) — Auburn
Pearl River baseball will host its annual first-pitch banquet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Olivia Bender Cafeteria on PRCC's Poplarville campus. This year's keynote speaker will be Matt Riser.
The Picayune native has continued Southeastern Louisiana's tradition of excellence and in six seasons leading the Lions he has amassed 227 wins.
Tickets for the banquet are $25 for adults, $12 for children 7-12 and free for anyone 6 and under.
To RSVP for the banquet, email Avalon at email@example.com.