CLARKSDALE - Coahoma Baseball experienced several hiccups and setbacks this season. Head Coach Lee Hodge has seen ups and downs in his coaching career but has not had things to pan out like this.
Early in the 2020 season, the Tigers did not play too many games due to inclement weather. The harsh climate also did damage to their home field, a misfortune that moved their practice to the James E. Miller Stadium.
"This has been a crazy year. We only practiced one time on our field," said Hodge. "Thank goodness for the football coaches letting us practice on their field."
Coahoma ended up playing at different locations for their home games. They also had to make up canceled games.
"We were rained out for four dates," said Hodge. "It was just one of those goofy years weather-wise, and this pandemic is something that I have never seen before."
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a silent killer, then led to the cancellation of practices and games. Coahoma was scheduled to play their MACJC conference opener against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on March 14, 2020, in Perkinston, Mississippi. They were hoping to move on and finish the season. However, the sudden rise of the coronavirus cases throughout the United States led to the NJCAA decision to cancel all spring sports. This moment brought a very abrupt end to the season for Coahoma Baseball.
"It was disappointing that the season had to end, but there are a lot more important things than sporting events," said Hodge. "CCC, MACJC, and the NJCAA did a good job of making the right decision for our student-athletes."
All members of the team are taking online classes to stay eligible. On the bright side of things, the NJCAA is granting an extra year of eligibility for all athletes in spring sports.
Looking to the future
Hodge continues to have faith in CCC Baseball's ability to work hard at becoming one of the best JUCO baseball programs in America.
"The players are healthy, and they are ready to play baseball," said Hodge. "The NJCAA did the right thing by offering the athletes an extra year of eligibility. You want to have a chance to play as long as you can."
Rodney Hibler was off to a great start during his sophomore season. He achieved a .447 batting average with six RBIs and 13 stolen bases.
"Hibler was looking to have a special year for us, probably the best in CCC Baseball history," said Hodge. "It's going to be great when Hibler returns next season."
Alex Russell had a great start as well. The freshman outfielder led Coahoma with a .471 batting average and 16 RBIs.
2020 has turned into a very challenging year for Hodge's coaching staff as well. Having had issues already set before them, they had to step up as father figures. Sadly, various players recently had to deal with personal problems, including losing family members.
"We have to be consistent with our players and show them that we care," said Hodge. "We want them to feel comfortable around us. I had great coaches that taught me what I need to do in life situations. Either with baseball or in life, you must be that positive person to your players."
The Tigers played only 12 games and finished 6-6 on the season. Hodge and the Tigers hope the 2020 season is just a set up for a successful season in 2021.
"This team is ready to win ball games," said Hodge. "When every player has the passion to win just as bad as our coaching staff, that's when you win ball games."