Lafayette hosts successful First Pitch Banquet

Lafayette's 2006 state championship baseball team was honored during the First Pitch Banquet held at the North Oxford Baptist Church. Approximately 300 people were in attendance. Photo ©Joey Brent

By John Davis, Sports Editor

It’s been 10 years since the Lafayette Commodores won the MHSAA Class 4A state title in baseball.<>

The tradition that was started by Richy Harrelson was remembered at the annual First Pitch banquet. Harrelson, who is the head baseball coach at Northeast Mississippi Community College, was the guest speaker.

Some of the players that made up the roster came back to visit.

Greg Lewis, the current head coach of the Commodores, said it was a great time for fellowship with the community.

“We didn’t have a pile of them because some are spread out and some are working, but we had some guys there and I think just seeing those guys that played for that title was good for our kids,” Lewis said. “I made the comment that when we first moved here the picture of the guys dog piling when we were at Pizza Hut. We have it in the commons now. Those are special times and memories.”

Lewis appreciated Harrelson talking about where the players went. The question about how many thought about playing Major League Baseball was brought up. All of them raised their hands.

“All of them turned out to be fine young men and that come from baseball,” Lewis said. “Learn a bunch of life lessons as you go along.”

Kevin Parker was a standout pitcher on the 2006 team. He was at the banquet and he told Lewis that if he ever needed someone to throw batting practice, he was there to help out.

“I told him I would see him in about a month,” Lewis said. “We were planning on about 200 coming and 300 something came. It was great. That’s why we did it and why it was so important to bring everyone back and bring in Richy in. That just doesn’t happen everyday. You want to see who laid the foundation.”

Lewis realized how special the Lafayette job was when he was hired to replace Harrelson following the 2007 season, and how close the program had become.

“What impressed me when I first got here is those guys would always yell ‘State’ when they got finished. When I was at Pearl River Central, we would say ‘District’ or ‘Playoffs’ because we had never been. Richy said the same thing,” Lewis said. “When Richy first came in, he asked one of the guys what his main goal was and he said ‘Coach, I want to win five games.’ We won five and then we won 10 and then we went to the playoffs. It reminded me of down there and how it all ties together. That’s why so many people came out.”

Twitter: @oxfordcitizenjd

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