PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast's baseball program enters a new era Saturday when the stadium at Ken "Curly" Farris Field opens.
The Bulldogs (9-1) entertain Illinois Central (3-1) in a doubleheader scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
"This sophomore group came in here knowing they were going to be on the road the whole year last year," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "The freshmen group knew they were going to get to play in the new stadium. We've sat here for a year and a half watching this thing unfold and come together. Now it's time to move in it, so it's exciting. Our guys are looking forward to getting back on their home turf and playing for their home fans."
Construction started in September 2015, and the team has been able to practice on the field throughout. There are 66 chairbacks among seating for 476 people. The baseball field moved to its current location in 1973, and it was named for Farris, the legendary Gulf Coast coach, in 1990.
He won 743 games and 13 state championships during his 27 seasons. Farris never had a losing season.
The last baseball game on the Perkinston campus was April 27, 2015. The team played the bulk of its games last year at MGM Park, and one doubleheader each at D'Iberville High School and William Carey. This year's home dates have been played at D'Iberville.
"I think it's going to be beneficial to us, no doubt," Batts said. "With recruits coming in, it's going to be a great recruiting tool for us. It's state-of-the art. There are some other things we have in mind that we want to do to the field and the surrounding area to make it even better. Hopefully, this is just the first step."
The opponent for the inaugural games will be tough one. The Cougars have scored 32 runs in their first four games.
"It's going to be a challenge for our guys," Batts said. "It's going to be a measuring stick. This is going to be a regional-, World Series-caliber team coming in here."
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.