MOBILE, Alabama – The 17th annual BayBears Classic opens today at selected sites around Mobile and Baldwin Counties, marking the official kickoff to the 2014 high school baseball season.
Twenty-four area teams will participate in the event, which begins with pool play at six different sites.
The pool games last through Wednesday.
After the schools are finished competing at their respective host sites, the overall records and statistics will be compiled and the schools will be seeded 1-24. The top two seeds will compete for the tournament championship on Feb. 24. The other 22 seeds will each play a game at Hank Aaron Stadium on Thursday-Saturday
Plenty of standout players will participate. Here are just a few, compiled from preseason information submitted from coaches and opinions from writers who cover games throughout the season for AL.com
Jesse McCord, P/INF, Spanish Fort
The reigning Press-Register Coastal Alabama Player of the Year returns for his senior season in hopes of leading the Toros back to the Class 5A championship series. The right-hander went 9-1 a year ago with a 0.91 ERA. McCord was named preseason Mr. Baseball for the state of Alabama by MaxPreps last month. He has signed with Mississippi State.
Malik Rosier, CF, Faith Academy
The versatile Miami football signee, who played catcher for the Rams a year ago, will move to centerfield this year. A Press-Register Coastal Alabama first-team selection and honorable mention All-State pick, Rosier hit .424 a year ago with 29 RBIs. He plans to play baseball as well as football at Miami.
Brax Garrett, P, Foley
The sophomore was a MaxPreps underclassman All-American last year as a freshman and a Class 6A All-State honorable mention selection as a utility player. He went 7-3 with a 1.81 ERA and struck out 108 in leading the Lions to the second round of the playoffs.
Hunter Slater, SS, Bayside Academy
The Southern Mississippi signee will play mostly shortstop this season though he can also pitch and play any of the infield positions. He likely will be a corner infielder at USM. Slater hit .498 a year ago with five homers and 44 RBIs. He is a four-year starter for the Admirals.
Troy Dixon, SS, UMS-Wright
The junior hit .354 a year ago in leading the Bulldogs to the state semifinals. He is a combination of power, speed and clutch hitting. He hit three homers a year ago and drove in 31. He also stole 20 bases. He’ll have to take on more of the offensive load this year with his brother, T.J., now at Samford and veteran Gunner Roach opting to concentrate on preparing for college football.
Corey Childress, P, Fairhope
The Troy signee will be one of the top pitchers in Coastal Alabama once again. A year ago, Childress went 9-2 as a junior with a 0.95 ERA in 73.1 innings pitched. He had eight complete games, three shutouts and a save. Childress helped the Pirates to the Class 6A quarterfinals and a 31-10 overall record.
Leighton Lary, P, St. Luke’s
As a freshman a year ago, Lary went 8-1 with a save and posted a 1.49 ERA. He struck out 54 batters in 56 innings of work, led the Wildcats to the state championship and was selected to the Class 1A All-State team.
Dylan Szymanski, 1B, Satsuma
Szymanski batted .370 with 26 RBIs a year ago and should help keep the Gators in contention for the postseason again this season.