The Choctaws baseball team has gotten off to a hot start. The team has won 10 of its first 12 ballgames including 4 against ranked opponents. Mississippi College needed to get off to a good start this season especially after starting 2-17 at the beginning of last season. MC did turn their season around last year finishing 20-28. Coach Haworth say the momentum of last year’s team carried over this season.
“It was crucial, last season we were 2-17 to begin the year but our guys did turn everything around. This year we walked into it believing that at the end of last year that we can win ball games, and we are good enough to be in this league,” said Haworth.
A big reason for the Choctaws success has been their bats. MC currently has 8 hitters batting over .300. “Our ultimate goal is to reach base, then to manufacture runs. If we are up 10 nothing, or down 10 nothing; our guys are not allowed to look at the scoreboard and we are supposed to manufacture runs every single inning,” said Haworth.
Mississippi College first basemen Blaine Crim feels comfortable knowing that if he gets on base, that one of his teammates will bring him in. “I think everybody builds off of one another. We are seeing good pitches and we are not missing right now. I think we have a really good lineup, we are getting on base and letting the lineup work,” Crim said.
Crim has played third base most of his career at Mississippi College, but this season coach Haworth made a switch. Haworth decided to put Crim at first base and Billy Cameron at third. The switch has paid off, Cameron is hitting .400 with a team high 3 homeruns. “We are just trying to get all of best players on the field. Billy is a really talented third basemen with a lot of range,” said Haworth.
“It is something we talked about coming in, and I know coach really wanted me to play third and Blaine is an incredible athlete so I don’t think the transition was with me it was more with Blaine. He has handled it exceptional,” Cameron said.
These Choctaws are a complete team, while their offense is really good; their pitching staff has been dominant. MC has three good starting pitchers; Chris Crosby, Hunter Mullis and Zach Ingram. But it’s not just their starters, the Choctaws bullpen has also stepped up and closed games.
“Early on when we faced Lindenwood College we do not know how we were going to start those 3, but Crosby has really shown consistency on the mound and so has Mullis. Ingram had a banged up shoulder during the fall, so he has been trying to find himself on the mound. He has done that in his last two outings.” Haworth said. “Those guys have been getting us deep into the game, and letting our bullpen work because we have a pretty good bullpen and that is why we are able to finish off games,” said Haworth.
The baseball program has completely turned around from a few years ago. The team believes that is from their chemistry and selfish attitudes. “We have three standards that our guys live by, that is Faith, Selfishness and relentlessness. We are not going to be a selfish group of guys, we are going to take care of one another. We give our season to Christ,” said Haworth. “We have had two guys be saved this year, Coach Perez our assistant coach was baptized and we have seen things changed in our program, and that what we want to see happen to other people,” Haworth said.
Crim has seen that change of culture on the field too, especially since his first year at Mississippi College. “Drastically, first year we could never really put it together, and we struggled that season. Last season I thought the same thing was happening when we started off 2-17 but something clicked. We had a culture change and we started winning. We wanted to transfer that over to this year, and it did” said Crim.
Coach Haworth does not want his squad to get complacent, he just wants his team to play Mississippi College baseball “Don’t let success get into your head, we are out to prove that we are better than what we are. Once we get to a place that we figured it out, then we are going to start slipping and humbleness is going to set in. I think what we have to do is keep worrying about manufacturing runs, putting 0’s on the board and doing the little things right. Make sure we are doing this for Christ,” said Haworth.
Cameron sees a lot of potential with this ball club “We can’t try to do stuff too fast, or try to be players that we are not. We all have our role and the time we hurt ourselves is when we get out of that role” said Cameron. “This year we started strong, and we are going to finish strong too. I came here to win Championships, and I really do believe that we have the team to do it” said Cameron.
Mississippi College travels to face the Shorter Hawks in Rome, Ga this weekend before coming back home to face Lee University in the GSC home opener.