Temple building Hinds baseball in mold of Warren Central

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

January 11, 2006

Sam Temple has a vision for what Hinds Community College baseball could be. He wants to turn the Eagles from Mississippi junior college also-rans into a state and national power.

Wait a minute, that sounds so familiar. I know I’ve heard that before. I swear it, but … oh, yeah, Temple had those same visions for a different baseball team in a different town.

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Ten years ago, Temple began the arduous process of turning Warren Central’s baseball team into winners. He started by getting players who bought into his vision to dedicate a large part of their lives to baseball. He then began making cosmetic changes, such as a new scoreboard, press box, dugouts, an indoor hitting facility, the signature blue wall in the outfield; the lists goes on and on.

Five years after he arrived, Temple led Warren Central to its first and only baseball state championship.

Now he is entering his second season at Hinds and has his players buying into his system. A phenomenal freshman recruiting class is rife with talent itching for a taste of Division I baseball.

The field – and Temple does take pride in his field – is undergoing a steady transformation. The bulky chain-link backstop is out, replaced by a three-foot brick wall and netting.

The field itself has undergone serious work, soon to look like a big league facility.

The dugouts are the biggest addition. They will be named in honor of Marc Basye and Drew Carlisle, two Hinds players killed in a car accident last year. A plaque remembering the players will adorn each dugout.

Because of the cosmetic changes to Joe G. Moss Field in Raymond, people in Vicksburg will get a chance at some early season baseball here.

The Eagles are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Feb. 13 at Bazinsky Field against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Knowing Mississippi as well as a transplanted Yankee does, it will either be sunny and warm or miserable and cold.

But it will be baseball. Very good baseball.

Of the players on Hinds’ wish list coming into the last recruiting period, only three are not with Temple this season. Northwest Rankin pitchers Todd McInnis and Jordan King are at Southern Miss, while Justin Reed signed a major league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

The team features Warren Central products Nick Carson, Josh Gordon, Jonathan Ettinger, Parker White and Eric Douglas, and Vicksburg graduate Steven Price.

In another visit to Vicksburg, the Wes Cliburn Classic, an annual tournament honoring the former Hinds player killed in a car accident, is scheduled for Bazinsky Field in March.

In two short years, Temple has come into an underachieving program, laid the groundwork for success both in personnel and facilities and is trying to make Warren County a huge part of it.

What is it that Yogi Berra said? &#8220It’s deja vu all over again.”