Zac is a graduate of West Jones High School (2011) and the University of Southern Mississippi (2015). This is his fourth year covering sports at The Impact.

Baseball season is here. Man, it feels good to finally say that again.

To say I’ve been looking forward to this part of the school year is an understatement. In recent weeks, I’ve met with countless area coaches to learn about their respective team as I compiled info for our annual baseball preview. It was a busy few weeks filled with running down stories, photos, schedules and rosters, but I kept my eye on the prize—this upcoming season.

There’s a lot of talented players back and a lot of talented teams primed to make a run to Trustmark Park, so I think we’re due for an incredible 2019 campaign. As an avid fan of baseball in this area, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for. One thing I know for certain is that we’re not short on storylines.

Hard not to lead off with the Hattiesburg Tigers. Pardon me, the reigning Class 5A State Champion Hattiesburg Tigers. After two years of coming up short deep in the postseason, the Tigers finally broke through last season and made their case as the best team to ever come through Hattiesburg. Graduation hit the Tigers hard, and for the first time in a long time, the program seems to be flying under the radar. Don’t underestimate this group, though. A lot of big name players are gone, but the cupboards are from bare. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Tigers start slow as they feel each other out. But come district and playoff time, this could be a very dangerous team.

The same goes for several other teams. Not including Hattiesburg, I see three with legitimate state championship aspirations, and all three are from Lamar County. To me, Oak Grove, Sumrall and Purvis have all the necessary components to go all the way this year. And get this: They’ll all play one another during the course of the season, so get your popcorn ready.

Other programs might not be at that level, but they expect to be much-improved. I could see FCAHS and PCS bouncing back from disappointing seasons and winning a lot more games simply because their younger players have a much-needed year of experience under their belt.

Petal and Seminary lost big senior classes and their head coaches, but high expectations remain intact.

And teams like North Forrest and Sacred Heart are super young, so the future appears super bright.

From top to bottom, we’ve got good teams with great stories to tell, which as a storyteller excites me even more about the upcoming season. You’ve probably heard the quote, “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.” Though it’s from a movie, truer words have never been spoken. I get chills just thinking about it, but forget just thinking about it because it’s time to play ball!

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