WC playing in Madison wooden bat tourney

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 2, 2004

[7/1/04]Warren Central’s summer baseball team will replace the familiar “ping” of aluminum with the “crack” of wooden bats and maybe a few splinters in this weekend’s Wooden Bat Tournament at Madison Central.

The Vikings began this morning with a 9 a.m. game against Terry, followed by a 1:30 p.m. matchup with Northwest Rankin. The round-robin tournament continues on Saturday with a 9 a.m. game against Madison Central, and WC concludes Sunday with an 11:15 a.m. game against a Montgomery (Ala.) squad.

The games will have a two-hour time limit and will follow high school rules. The only difference will be the wooden bats.

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“When you hit a ball on the sweet spot with the wood and the sweet spot with aluminum, there’s not that much difference,” WC coach Randy Broome said. “The difference is capping a ball or getting jammed. With aluminum, you still get a base hit off of it. With these wood (bats), you get one on the hands or off the end of the bat, you’ve got a chance of splintering in your hands.”

Broome said the players enjoy the chance to play like they’re in the major leagues, and he added that the games are often low-scoring and help build the pitchers’ confidence.

“They definitely won’t feel timid about throwing an inside fastball,” he said.

And, of course, each game is weather permitting.

Warren Central has played only nine games of its 23-game schedule this summer because of numerous rainouts.

Broome said the pitching staff has done well, and he’s been able to use a lot of different arms.

Russell Johnson has had a strong summer in the bullpen, Broome said. Johnson picked up a save in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Jackson Prep. He struck out the first batter, hit the second and ended the game on a double play.

“He’s probably the project of the staff,” Broome said. “He really hadn’t pitched at all for us ever.”

The hitting has been a little disappointing lately, but it could be a timing problem with such a spaced-out schedule, Broome said.

“When you haven’t done it in a week, it doesn’t matter if you hit in a cage or not,” he said.

The Vicksburg Thunder, St. Aloysius’ summer baseball team, wraps up its season this weekend with a tournament in Pensacola, Fla.

The Thunder open with Tate High of Pensacola on Friday, followed by a matchup with a New Orleans all-star team on Saturday. The round-robin tournament ends Sunday with a pair of games against Catholic High (Fla.) and Deer Hope (Ala.).

“It’s going to be rough,” said coach Clint Wilkerson, who will take over in his first season at St. Aloysius next spring. “We haven’t played a game in going on three weeks, with the rain.”

Despite the bad weather, Wilkerson said the summer has been very productive. He said he has used the summer to teach the players several new techniques, and he moved people around to different positions to evaluate the team’s abilities.

“We’ve improved more than I actually thought we would,” he said. “From the first game until the last game we played, we did well.”

Folowing the tournament, Wilkerson will hold baseball tryouts from July 26-29.

“It’s going to be very intense, and on the 29th, I’ll make my team,” he said. “We’ll cut and go from there. I’ll have my team established before school starts.”