April 21, 2009
Clark Richey won’t realize his goal until June.
But he will take another step toward it tonight when the Cotton States Baseball League unveils its four-team North Division at 4:45 p.m. today at the Magnolia Civic Center in New Albany.
The CSBL North is a summer collegiate wood bat league designed to prepare collegiate players for professional baseball.
The four new teams, which will include the Golden Triangle Jets, will begin play June 1.
Richey, who will serve as president of the four-team division, said the teams — the North Delta Dealers, the Jets, the Tallahatchie Rascals, and the Tupelo Thunder — will play for their first two years at one site: the New Albany Sportsplex.
The teams will play 28 games in June and July, a North/South mid-season All-Star game, and a best-of-three championship series on July 31-Aug. 2 in Jackson.
The CSBL North will promote its players and activities to NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, and professional scouts, coaches and recruiters.
Richey, who runs Mississippi Select Baseball, which organizes youth sports tournaments and events, said the goal of the expansion is to provide more players from the state of Mississippi an opportunity to play a high level of baseball close to home in the summer.
“We wanted to be in driving distance for Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Memphis for players who need summer school for academic progress and things like that can still experience summer league baseball,” Richey said.
Richey said the CSBL could expand to multiple sites after the first two years.
Mississippi Select Sports will operate the CSBL in conjunction with Jackson’s CSBL, which is run by Performance Sports Academy in Flowood.
Chris Snopek, a former Ole Miss Rebel and MLB player with the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox, owns PSA, the first professional sports academy of its kind in Mississippi. It offers services to improve athletes in baseball, softball, soccer, and speed/agility.
The CSBL is perfect for Richey, who has four sons, including his oldest, Gardner, who is a freshman on the Samford University baseball team.
Richey, who also is the USSSA area director for North Mississippi, said he first got the idea about expanding the CSBL into the northern part of the state two months ago. He said he was contacted by Snopek and it didn’t take long to hire people to work this season and to raise money for the league.
“I already had this planned out when I got the call from Snopek,” Richey said. “It just seemed like an omen. It was the right place at the right time, it was an idea we already had, and being affiliated with an organization that was already established made sense for us to do it.”
New Hope High School graduate and former Mississippi State baseball player Jeff Hunter, who owns AdvantEdgeSports in Tupelo, will coach the Golden Triangle Jets. AdvantEdgeSports provides speed, agility, strength training, and all aspects of baseball instruction.
Shawn Hairald, a Kansas City Royals scout, will coach the Tupelo Thunder.
Chris Basil, the coach at East Union High School and a former baseball player at the University of Mississippi, will coach the Tallahatchie Rascals.
Doug Robbins, the coach at Water Valley High and a former baseball player at Delta State, will coach the North Delta Dealers.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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