POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Expectations will be high once again for the Pearl River baseball team heading into the 2020 season. The NJCAA Division II preseason ranking came out Tuesday with coach Michael Avalon's reigning Region XXIII champions ranked fifth in the country.
The poll marks the second straight preseason Pearl River has been in the NJCAA's Top 10; the Wildcats opened last year eighth. The preseason ranking sparked an unforgettable season as PRCC ultimately qualified for the NJCAA World Series in Enid, Oklahoma, and finished the season sixth.
"We are very proud and humbled by the preseason ranking. Last year's team accomplished a lot and continued to set the standard high for our program," Avalon said. "Our current players and coaches look forward to upholding this standard while hopefully continuing to raise the bar.
"Our ultimate goal will always be to finish the season as the No. 1 team in the country. We look forward to Opening Day and competing in the toughest conference and region in the country."
The Wildcats are one of six MACJC schools — and seven Region XXIII institutions — ranked in the Top 20.
"As always, whoever comes out of this region will have to earn it," Avalon said.
Tuesday's announcement also marks the 24th straight poll with the Wildcats firmly entrenched among the NJCAA's Top 20.
The Wildcats are less than a month away from Opening Day. PRCC will open the season Feb. 16 with a home doubleheader against Bevill State. The Wildcats jump into MACJC action March 14 with a road trip to Northeast.
Pearl River heads into preseason 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
Alford and Ware have also seen considerable draft buzz this preseason. Perfect Game ranked the duo inside its top 150 JUCO draft prospects. Ware checked in at No. 11, with Alford at No. 29.
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 Southeastern Louisiana coach 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.