If everything goes as plan Friday in the season opener against the Fulton Hornets, the Boonville Pirates baseball team will be 1-0 before embarking on a 10 hour and 30 minute trip, or 686 miles, to Oxford, Alabama on Sunday for a spring trip.
The Pirates will play four games in two days before returning home to play Hallsville in the conference opener on Friday, March 22 at Twillman field in Harley park starting at 5 p.m.
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Adam Arnette said the team will leave the BHS parking lot at 7:30 a.m. on a coach bus and then arrive in Oxford, where they will stay at Sleep Inn. Arnette said the hotel is approximately one mile from Choccolocco park, where the Pirates will play during their two day stay in Oxford.
“Although we will be gone four days, two of those days will be spent for travel,” Arnette said. “We’re going to try and do this every two years. We went to Florida in 2017 but after talking to the Hickman baseball coach they went to this same place and really liked it and I think the competition is a little better.”
Arnette said the four teams that Boonville will play (Oxford, Austin, Opelika and Oak Mountain) have already played a combined 41 games. He said Austin is currently 12-3 while Oak Mountain is 7-1, Oxford 6-3 and Opelika 1-8 for a combined record of 26-15.
The Pirates will play a doubleheader on Monday and then two games again on Tuesday. The schedule for Monday has Boonville playing Oxford at 4:30 p.m. and Austin at 6:30. Then, on Tuesday, Boonville will play Opelika at 10 a.m. and Oak Mountain at 4:30 p.m.
Arnette said he will take approximately 24 players but will need every pitcher they have as far as four games in two days.
“There may be some younger guys that get in there and get some at bats or some innings on the mound,” Arnette said. “If we can get a bunch of them experience or at least keep them involved in the team stuff, I think that’s good. It’s also to get us some good competition and really help us for the postseason as well.”
Arnette said he will probably start senior Reece Lang in the opener against Oxford and then have senior Connor Barnes pitch the second game against Austin. Then, on Tuesday, Arnette said he will probably start a younger pitcher against Opelika and come back with sophomore Cody Garner in the fourth game against Oak Mountain.
“It’s really going to depend on how the games are going,” Arnette said. “The competition looks like it’s going to be pretty good. Some of the teams have already played 15 games so they are going to be in mid-season form and we are going to be in early season form.
“This is really going to give the players a true college baseball experience. A lot of these guys want to go play at the next level so this is really like a true college baseball trip. You travel, you get there and play and then you comeback. That’s college baseball. We are taking a coach bus all the way down there so it feels like you would in college.”
Arnette said taking this trip will also give the team some more looks. But the main thing, he said, is that it will give the kids more experience.
“It’s really going to help prepare us for our season,” Arnette said. “Like I said, we are going down there and play teams in mid-season form so what is that going to make us do-it’s going to make us do the little things right. We are probably going to be in a couple of situations where we have to move a guy over and get a ground ball to the right side or bunt a guy over and that’s going to prepare us for the postseason stuff.”
Arnette said he would also like to start his starters in every game.
“If we get a big lead or fall behind or we are running out of pitching, we’ll get some other guys some experience,” Arnette said. “We would love to win every game we play, but it’s a chance to play some games against good competition to get us ready for the regular season and after.”
There will be no JV games on this trip compared to the previous trip to Florida, Arnette said.
“I think it’s going to be fun for the players,” Arnette said. “Of course we couldn’t do this without the parents and the community really supporting us and giving us the opportunity to go do it as well.”