March 20 won’t be a good day for most students in Jackson-Madison County Schools because it’s the day they’re scheduled to return to class from Spring Break.
But a group of athletes in the middle schools of the district are looking forward to that day.
Middle school baseball will officially begin JMCSS on that day.
The JMCSS leadership announced in February of their plans to begin baseball at the middle schools, and tryouts and practice have begun at the five schools – Rose Hill, Northeast, West Bemis, North Parkway and Jackson Central-Merry.
“This is something the high school baseball coaches have asked for and something [Superintendent Marlon King] had a vision for before I moved into this role,” said Jason Brideman, who became the district athletic director last summer. “So we’re glad to provide this opportunity for them.”
The season starts on March 20 and will last through the beginning of May, after which there will be a season-ending tournament to crown a district middle school baseball champion.
“We’re keeping the games within the district this year to give all the coaches a chance to work any kinks out of the program,” Bridgeman said. “But I know everyone is looking forward to getting out there and playing each other.”
All games will be played at the West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex, similar to middle school softball that’s been played there for a few years in the fall. Most games will be on Tuesday each week with a few on Thursday to allow for all teams to play at least one game a week.
After this year, the plan is for all teams to be a part of the TMSAA, the middle school version of TSSAA.
Bridgeman said a lack of facilities at the middle schools is the reason that baseball is just now coming to this level of JMCSS.
“No middle school in the district has an actual baseball field,” Bridgeman said. “Most of them have an open area big enough to play baseball and some of them have a backstop or something like that, but not having facilities has kept the district from having it before this year.
“But Dr. King’s vision was for it to happen, and we’re appreciative of his vision and to Mr. [Jason] Compton and the Sportsplex for allowing us to play our games there.”
A lack of equipment has been a roadblock to middle school baseball as well. Academy Sports and other businesses are donating equipment or funds to purchase equipment for the players and teams.
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org