POPLARVILLE – A new era begins in baseball at Pearl River Community College next spring.In September, Josh Hoffpauir was named PRCC baseball coach, replacing Jamie McMahon, who resigned to accept a coaching job at Nicholls (La.) State University. Hoffpauir has been an assistant coach at PRCC the past three seasons.Shortly thereafter, Hoffpauir, a 2001 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, put his team through five weeks of fall workouts.”One of our main goals was to make sure our freshmen are comfortable and they understand the way we do things,” said Hoffpauir. “With the coaching change, even our freshmen have had to make adjustments. It going to be different when you have a coaching turnover.”All of the kids have grabbed the change. It a good group. I like where we are at after the fall workouts.”Hoffpauir inherits a team that finished last season with a 26-29 record, the school first losing season in 10 years. The Wildcats started slow and finished strong.”We under achieved and we want to make sure that doesnt happen again,” said Hoffpauir. “The guys rallied up near the end and found a way to finish third in the state.”Hoffpauir first team at PRCC features 19 freshmen and only three returning starters.The pitching staff features the return of southpaw Buck Bernard of Petal, who won eight games last season. “He will be our ace,” said Hoffpauir.Reliever Jared Bond, a sophomore from Denham Springs, La., returns, as does sophomore Robert Marzoni of Purvis, who is recovering from an injury and had a good fall. Sophomores Beau Underwood of St. Patrick and Josh Hubbell of Forrest County AHS will also see mound duty.Sophomore Luke Rowan of Clinton has the inside track at catcher, the same with sophomore Temple Harvey of Brandon. Sophomore Matt Magee of Petal played in the outfield last season but has moved to third base.Sophomore Grae Ormon of Clinton is the second baseman and the freshman trio of Chase Lewallen of Sumrall, Aaron Lee of Pearl River Central and Jose Salo of Puerto Rico are fighting for the shortstop job.Sophomores James Abraham of St. Stanislaus, a transfer, Ethan Ewoldt of Oak Grove, and B.J. Smith of Sumrall, and freshmen Chase Toussaint of Petal and Casey Comfort of Oak Grove are just a few of the players battling for playing time in the outfield.”I believe we are going to be versatile, very athletic,” said Hoffpauir. “We have a lot of guys who can move around. There going to be a lot of competition for playing time.”What kind of offensive team will the 2011 Wildcats be? “We are going to do a lot of things,” said Hoffpauir. “We will run, bunt and make things happen. We wont sit back and wait on a three-run homer. We will not be as powerful, but weve got good team speed. We should be able to apply some pressure.”Assistant coaches for the Wildcats are Zack Zulli (hitters and infielders) and former PRCC pitching star Kyle Lindsey (pitchers).Hoffpauir says the winner of the South Division of the MACJC will host this year state championship and the winner of the north division will host the region tournament.
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