No. 1 Pearl River ready to host Region 23 Tournament
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College and its No. 1 baseball program are preparing to host the Region 23 Tournament for the second consecutive season. The tournament is set for May 16-20 at Dub Herring Park.
"We are excited to host the Region 23 tournament again at The Dub," head coach Michael Avalon said. "As always, this regional will be extremely competitive with some of the best teams in the country. The atmosphere should be electric."
As the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference Champion, Pearl River (36-10) earned hosting rights and will be the No. 1 seed. Other qualifiers for the tournament are:
• No. 2 East Mississippi Lions (27-17) • No. 3 LSU Eunice Bengals (38-15) • No. 4 Hinds Eagles (28-16) • No. 5 Jones College Bobcats (31-15) • No. 6 Northwest Rangers (26-22)
LSU Eunice earned an automatic bid into the tournament. The rest of the field had to win a best-of-three series against another MACCC foe. East Mississippi defeated East Central, Hinds knocked off Gulf Coast, Jones College took down Northeast and Northwest upset Meridian.
ABOUT PEARL RIVER
The Wildcats have been tabbed as the No. 1 team in the NJCAA as they enter the tournament. PRCC is led at the plate by reigning MACCC Player of the Year and NJCAA First Team All-American Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison). The center fielder turned in another incredible regular season, leading his team and his conference in batting average (.462), homers (15) and hits (73). He tallied 52 RBIs, seven doubles, three triples, 22 walks and 15 stolen bases. Gabe Broadus(Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) set the tone at the top of the lineup this season, hitting .390. He also collected 33 RBIs, nine doubles, three homers and one triple. He finished second in the MACCC with 32 stolen bases. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) finished the year with a .342 average, 40 RBIs, 30 walks, 12 homers, five doubles and one triple. He also stole 32 bases. Tennesee signee Turner Swistak (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) has been the leader on the mound, finishing the year with 50 innings pitched, 49 strikeouts and a 3.24 ERA. Cole Tolbert (Laurel; West Jones) has been the first out of the bullpen, throwing 32 1/3 innings, striking out 40 hitters and holding a 2.23 ERA.
ABOUT EAST MISSISSIPPI
The Lions earned the No. 2 seed after wrapping up their best season since they qualified for the Region 23 Tournament in 2015. Outfielder Ethan Medlin is tops on the team in average, boasting a mark of .362. He has hit five homers and six doubles while driving in 26 runs. Two-way star Blayze Berry's .352 batting average places him in second. He has collected 35 RBIs, seven homers, seven doubles and one triple. On the mound, Berry holds a 6-1 record and 2.63 ERA across 61 2/3 innings pitched. He has struck out 57 batters to just 10 walks.
ABOUT LSU EUNICE
The Bengals are the reigning NJCAA DII National Champion. They are led at the plate by Peyton LeJeune who is hitting .303 with a team-high 62 RBIs. He has also hit 12 doubles, six homers and one triple. Bryce LaRocca has driven in 39 RBIs and holds a .306 average. He has hit 14 doubles, five homers and one triple. Patrick Vienne leads the way on the mound for LSUE. He boasts a 10-1 record and 2.88 ERA across 68 2/3 innings pitched. He has struck out 75 batters.
Vantrel Reed has been incredible at the plate for the Eagles this season. He will enter the tournament hitting .416 with 50 RBIs, 11 doubles, 11 homers and one triple. Josh Rodriguez is second on the team in average, hitting .351. He has 42 RBIs, 23 walks, 14 doubles and 12 homers. Hinds' ace on the mound is right-hander Holland Townes who has pitched 72 innings with 89 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA.
ABOUT JONES COLLEGE
In the batter's box, DeeJay Booth leads the way for Jones College. The outfielder finished the regular season with a .309 batting average, a team-high 32 RBIs, 30 walks, nine doubles, and four homers. Josh Cary's .358 batting average leads the team among those with at least 20 games played. He has collected 23 RBIs, six doubles, two triples and one homer. Kade Keaton is leading the way on the mound, tossing 63 2/3 innings and holding a 3.11 ERA. He has struck out 63 to 23 walks.
The Rangers are led by Ryan Lee who has been a tough out this season. The sophomore leads the team in both batting average (.402) and RBIs (51). He has 15 homers, 11 doubles and three triples. Wesley Lester is tied with Lee for the lead in RBIs with 51. He is hitting .311 with 22 walks, 13 homers and 10 doubles. Zach Willingham has been the best pitcher for Northwest this season, leading the team with a 1.91 ERA. He has pitched 56 2/3 innings, striking out 75 against 20 walks.
PRCC has partnered with Kat Daddy Katering for the duration of the tournament. The menu includes hot dogs, chill cheese dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chili cheeseburgers, cowboy burgers, footlong hand-dipped corndogs, chicken strip baskets, pulled pork sandwiches, shrimp po-boys, sausage po-boys, Philly cheese steak po-boys, buffalo chicken po-boys, four types of loaded fries, three different nachos options, funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos and deep fried cheesecakes. Sweet tea, lemonade and strawberry lemonade will be offered as drink options.
Pearl River will also sell tournament T-shirts which can be purchased for $20.
Tickets are $12 per day or $40 for a tournament pass, which includes all five days. Kids 10 and under are free. Tickets and passes can be purchased by visiting PRCCAthletics.com/tickets.
Tournament passes can only be purchased in advance.
Pearl River has re-launched its tournament central page for this season's Region 23 Tournament. It can be accessed at PRCCAthletics.com/Region23 and will be the home for all tournament information, including livestreams, photos, brackets, directions and more.