Booneville, Miss. - Members of the Northeast Mississippi Community College baseball program are living up the moniker of "the boys of summer."
Fourteen student-athletes from the Tigers' 2018 roster are currently playing for summer baseball teams across the state and nation in order to further sharpen their skill set.
"We want those guys to go play because it helps them get more reps," said Northeast head coach Richy Harrelson. "It just keeps them in a routine. They go off in the summer and they have success using the things that we get them to do here."
Three Tigers escaped the borders of the Magnolia State and are playing for prestigious leagues and organizations that are known for helping athletes prepare for the professional level.
Colt Chrestman made the longest journey of any Northeast standout. He traveled some 900-plus miles south to play for the Pompano Beach Clippers of the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League (SFCBL).
Chrestman had a breakout campaign as a sophomore with team-highs of a .429 batting average, .455 on-base percentage, 67 hits, 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts and three triples.
One of Northeast's biggest returning athletes for the 2019 season is also soaking in some rays in the Sunshine State. Jake Christa is pitching in the Florida Collegiate Summer League (FCSL) with the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Christa ended his freshman year red hot after winning his final four decisions, including game two of the Tigers' playoff series at Meridian Community College that forced a decisive third contest.
Mississippi State University commit Tucker Childers ventured just to the south of the Mason-Dixon line in Maryland and joined the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts of the well-renowned Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.
Childers broke the school record for most home runs in a single season with 13 and finished second for most career dingers with 23. He topped Northeast with 53 RBIs and a .679 slugging percentage.
"It's a really good deal for them to go off and play," Harrelson said. "They're playing against some of the best players in the country and then when they come back here it will help them tremendously."
Most of the Tigers remained close to their home base by accepting roles for local American Legion senior clubs or in the Cotton States Baseball League (CSBL) at nearby New Albany.
A vast majority of that group is competing for the CSBL's Tupelo Thunder. Northeast's Dylan Gatlin, Chase Kessinger, Anthony Lipsey, Blaine Mercer, Charles Spencer, Thomas Stevens, Jacob Wilcher and Nik Wilcher are all on the Thunder roster.
Gatlin and Kessinger were used out of the bullpen during their respective freshmen campaigns. The duo combined to toss nine total innings in 12 appearances while Gatlin was credited with the win in an 11-10 decision at then-No. 9 Jones County Junior College.
Lipsey and Stevens were anchors in the Tigers' infield. Lipsey was a mainstay at second base that produced a .330 batting average while Stevens split time behind the plate with Childers and threw out nine runners attempting to steal.
Jacob, who is the older of the two Wilcher brothers, occupied right field for Northeast. He tied Childers with a team-best 12 doubles plus added four home runs and 26 RBIs as well.
Mercer, Spencer, and the younger of the Wilcher brothers, Nik, did not participate in any games in their redshirt seasons for the Tigers this year. The same goes for Blake Goodin, who is suiting up for the North Mississippi Indians out of Amory.
Ty James also entered the American Legion ranks with the 14-time state champion Tupelo 49ers. He was 2-0 with 15.1 innings of work in 12 relief stints during his inaugural campaign at Northeast.
Simmons Sowell, who is playing for the Mississippi Shockers, completes the list of Tigers that are in action this summer. He was solid defensively as a freshman by turning nine double plays and committing only three errors in 53 total chances.