POPLARVILLE, Miss. — For the second straight offseason, Pearl River's Dub Herring Park has received another major facelift.
After constructing a new press box with two luxury suites, adding a turf infield, refurbishing the bullpens and installing 200 spacious chairback seats last offseason, the home for PRCC's baseball team took another step forward this spring.
The Wildcats broke ground on the second phase of The Dub's expansion last fall, flanking the covered press box seating behind home plate with two more canopies and 200 more chairback seats stretching toward the dugouts.
PRCC also constructed two berms behind the dugouts that will allow for more lawn chair and picnic seating.
"In junior college baseball it will be tough to find a stadium across the country that's going to equal ours," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "It's going to be an impressive place to watch a baseball game and there won't be a bad seat in the house."
Avalon said the idea for expansion started three years ago after his Wildcats played in the Region XXIII Tournament.
"We spoke after the regional, where there seemed like 2,000-plus fans in attendance and realized our ballpark, as it was configurated at the time, couldn't hold anything close to that amount," he said. "If we were blessed to be able to host that kind of event, we wanted to ensure our fans have a quality setting to watch the Wildcats play."
Avalon said it was a collaborative effort from the top down at Pearl River, crediting President Dr. Adam Breerwood, Vice President for the Poplarville Campus and Student Affairs Jeff Long, key supporters Jeff Dungan, Barry Harper and Dub Herring, along with many more.
"It took hundreds of people to help through various means to make this stadium a reality," Avalon said. "What we're looking at is the result of a tireless effort from everyone involved, which makes it even more special."
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
The Wildcats were in the midst of another strong season under Avalon's guidance before the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic shutdown all athletics across North America. Pearl River finished the abbreviated season 12-4. After opening the season ranked 5th by the NJCAA, the Wildcats climbed as high as No. 2. Among numerous achievements in the shortened season, the Wildcats threw a combined no-hitter on both ends of a doubleheader and saw one freshman standout, Leif Moore (St. Martin) named the NJCAA Pitcher of the Week.
NEXT LEVEL — AND BEYOND
Although the Wildcats' 2020 season and Region XXIII title defense was halted, PRCC still has a number of players moving on to the next level.
The out-going class is comprised of Mississippi State signee Kole Alford (McComb; North Pike), Louisiana-Monroe signees Britt McKay (Wiggins; Ocean Springs) and Reid Golemon (Moselle; South Jones), Southeastern Louisiana signee Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion), Southern Miss signee Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy), Louisiana Tech signee Cade Hodges (Brookhaven; Loyd Star) and Auburn signee Bryson Ware (Gluckstadt; Germantown). Fellow SLU signee Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) has opted to return to PRCC for one more season before moving on to the Lions.
Following the cancellation of the season, tight-hander Evan Bynum (Soso; West Jones) signed with Delta State.
Additionally, Ware has a chance to be selected in next month's MLB First-Year Players Draft.
The PRCC shortstop forced his way onto draft rankings in the fall and has been ranked as high as the ninth-best JUCO prospect. Perfect Game's latest MLB Draft rankings have the Auburn signee slotted at No. 289.
If Ware's selected, it would mark the third straight year a Wildcat is drafted directly out of PRCC after Simon "Meaux" Landry was selected in the 22nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 and Dexter Jordan was picked by the Houston Astros in the 16th round last year; former PRCC pitcher Colby White was a sixth round selection out of Mississippi State by the Tampa Bay Rays last year as well.
With MLB shortening its draft to five rounds this year, if Ware is selected he'll be the highest PRCC pick since Jacob Taylor was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.
Dating back to 1983, PRCC has had 30 players selected in the MLB draft.