The Cotton States baseball league and both area American Legion baseball teams are set to start playing this week.

After weeks of being on standby, Gov. Tate Reeves’ latest guidelines and restrictions made last week allows for public gatherings of up to 100 people outside, so teams are charging ahead with their summer seasons.

Now, the CSBL, Tupelo 49ers and Pontotoc Red Sox are all planning to begin play on Friday.

The 49ers and Red Sox games this summer are not sanctioned by the American Legion, which canceled its season earlier this summer. Nonetheless, 49ers coach McKinley Holland is just happy to be back on the diamond.

“We are ready to go,” Holland said. “I’m ecstatic and I know the boys are too. You could see it in their eyes when they tried out last week. They were chomping at the bits and just ready to play games.”

Holland said his team will follow any guidelines, restrictions, or rules set in place at any venue or event they play at this summer. The 49ers open the season at Pontotoc on Friday.

In New Albany, the Cotton States is expecting its biggest turnout in league history this summer. Usually the CSBL is played with 6-8 teams with 18 college players on each team, but there are 10 teams signed up and ready to start on Friday.

There have never been more than eight teams before. The ninth and tenth teams announced last week are the Swampers and the Lookouts, coached by Saltillo assistant coach Scott Fleming and new Hickory Flat head coach Nolan Stevens.

“COVID-19 might be the reason we have 10 teams,” Cotton States director Sam Creekmore said. “Kids are wanting to stay home, so we are getting some local kids who might have gone off. And then we are also getting kids who might think Mississippi and New Albany is a safe place to play. …

“Either way, we are excited about it and really looking forward to putting together a good product out there.”

There are 15 Cotton States games set to play at BNA Park between Friday and Monday, June 8.

Twitter: @DLMiddleton8

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