Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 2012 - 1:52pm

POPLARVILLE - Following five weeks of fall workouts, Pearl River Community College baseball coach Josh Hoffpauir feels pretty good about his 2013 Wildcat squad, which will be his third.
            His first team in 2011 was 28-21 and reached the MACJC state playoffs. His second team was 24-19 but failed to make the playoffs.
            “Last year was disappointing, but our sophomores this year are using it as a positive,” said Hoffpauir. “We got off to a great start and then some things happened. The guys started pressing and they put too much pressure on themselves. They are playing now with a chip on their shoulders.”
            He gives his team a winning grade for their efforts this fall, which included a 3-1 record.
            “We have a good group of guys,” said Hoffpauir. “In my 10 years as a coach, this is the most fun group that I have been around. They enjoy coming out every day to work.”
            Successful teams sport strong pitching staffs and Hoffpauir believes he has the nucleus of a good staff. Some of the proof came during the early signing period for colleges and universities.
            Three of his players signed grant-in-aid scholarships early.
            Right-handed pitcher Ryan Deemes of Holy Cross High in Chalmette, La., signed with
Nicholls State (La.) University and Christian Talley of Hancock High, another righthander, signed with the University of Southern Mississippi.
            Deemes was a key starter in 2012, boasting a perfect 4-0 record. He pitched 45 innings, struck out 32, and finished his freshman year with a 4.2 earned run average.
            Talley finished the 2012 season with a 4-1 record in 57 innings of mound work. He struck out 39 batters and had a team-best 2.37 earned run average.
            Also, center fielder Braxton Lee of Picayune signed with Ole Miss. Lee was an All-MACJC and All-Region 23 performer last season and sported a second_best .362 batting average. He played all 42 games, finished with 50 hits, a .461 on-base percentage, and 29 stolen bases - all team-high totals. His stolen base percentage was 93.5 and he drove in 20 runs.
           Throw in Jacksonville, Fla., transfer Brandon Fry, a sophomore lefty, returning relief pitcher Anthony Lusco of Bay St. Louis, along with incoming freshmen Trevor Bennett of Hancock and Jake Brumfield of Natchez, and Hoffpauir believes he has the makings of a solid staff.
            “We have big expectations for Ryan and Christian, and Fry has some Division I offers on the table,” Hoffpauir said. “Our top reliever is back and two good freshmen stepping in. These will be the guys we count on the most for our pitching.”
            The catching chores will be handled by sophomores Krisjon Wilkerson of St. Stanislaus and Forrest Dungan of Columbia, who will split doubleheaders. “We expect both of those guys to have good years at the plate,” said Hoffpauir.
            Carlos Gonzalez of Warren Central has the inside track at third base and Andrew Wilkes of Pearl at shortstop. Both are freshmen. Darien Brown of Hattiesburg and Paul Pickerrell of Elizabethtown, Ky., are battling at second and Nathan Pugh of Starkville, another freshman, is at first.
            Lee has the centerfield job. Kollin Cannon of St. Stanislaus, Darius Knight of Pearl, and Pickerrell are among a group that will play in the outfield.
            “Right now, we have a lot of options in the outfield,” said Hoffpauir. “We are pretty athletic, so that will help if we have to move guys around. It’s a freshman-oriented bunch but it’s also a good, strong class.”
            This fall has not been without its challenges for the baseball team. The field house suffered water damage from heavy storms early in the semester. The renovation has included new lockers, offices and players’ locker room.
            “We didn’t have the field house for two months this fall, but these guys never complained,” said Hoffpauir. “It’s almost finished. We are excited about it.”
            The 2013 Wildcats will open the season Feb. 9 with a pair of nine-inning games against Baton Rouge, La., in Vidalia, La.
            “I haven’t been this excited about a team in a long time,” said Hoffpauir. “We may not be as talented as we have been, but it is a close group. We play in a tough conference, but I am looking forward to the season.”         
            Assistant coaches for the Wildcats are former PRCC pitching star Kyle Lindsey and Jeff Long. The manager is Cody Ladner.

November 27, 2012 - 1:55pm

POPLARVILLE - Pearl River Community College President William Lewis calls it a “progressive step for our students.”
            Ben Scaggs, Gulf of Mexico Program director at Stennis Space Center, says “this relationship with Pearl River Community College is just one step in helping us raise awareness of environmental issues with the Gulf of Mexico. The journey begins here.”
            Lewis and Scaggs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday to increase cooperation between PRCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program in areas of mutual interest.
            The PRCC Honors Institute and the Gulf of Mexico Program will collaborate to further the missions of both entities. The collaboration will include internships, co_ops and research opportunities for Honors Institute students, lectures by Gulf of Mexico Program staff and community outreach.
            The Honors Institute will provide students an enriched and challenging curriculum designed to foster individual scholarship and research, according to Dr. Stephen Black, director of the Honors Institute.
            “The partnership will offer tremendous opportunities for our students and the program,” said Black. “The partnership allows for student participation in service learning that benefits the community.
            “The Honors Institute will sponsor lectures on ecology and environmental preservation on our campus. This agreement will help make our students environmentally sensitive to the needs of our community. Another benefit is in providing internship possibilities that will benefit our students both intellectually and economically.”
            PRCC sophomore Sofia Tent of Carriere worked as a summer intern in the Gulf of Mexico Program office for 10 weeks and received the Student Diversity Intern Program Excellence Award for the EPA’s southern region.
            “It was a really great experience,” said Tent. “You learn how to work in a professional field. Not everybody my age gets a chance to do that before they enter the workforce. You learn a lot of skills. When you do this internship, you attend a bunch of seminars, help organize conferences, and help work on projects like the Gulf Restoration Project.
            “I would recommend an internship for anybody. You learn a wide variety of skills; not defined to any one thing. You work in such a small office, so everybody helps with everything.”
            By partnering with the Honors Institute, the Gulf Program seeks to raise awareness on issues impacting the Gulf of Mexico and the citizens who rely either directly or indirectly on this critical resource.
            “Some of these students might find their way into the EPA field,” said Scaggs, “but regardless, the program will give them an awareness of the environmentalism as it relates to the Gulf of Mexico.
            Dr. Lewis said the gulf impacts the Mississippi economy and a way of life. He said this partnership creates a new opportunity for learning in PRCC’s education programs.      
            “The opportunity for our students to participate in this co-op program with Stennis Space Center is remarkable,” said Dr. Lewis. “It is an honor and a privilege for us and it is long-lasting and tremendously meaningful. We have a big vision for our honors program and this is one step in that process.”

PRCC and Stennis sign agreement

POPLARVILLE - Pearl River Community College President William Lewis (seated right) and Ben Scaggs (seated left), Gulf of Mexico Program director at Stennis Space Center, signed a memorandum of understanding Monday to increase cooperation between PRCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program. The PRCC Honors Institute and the Gulf of Mexico Program will collaborate to further the missions of both entities. PRCC Honors Institute students attending the signing included from left: Standing - Sofia Tent of Carriere, William Walley, Chastity Polk and Shelby Sattler, all of Poplarville, Trevor Creighton of Carrick Fergus, Northern Ireland, and Kevin Grzenia of Chicago.