College baseball games will keep Jackson, MS’s Smith-Wills Stadium busy in 2020, as the facility’s management lines up an extensive slate of events.
Smith-Wills Stadium is best remembered in professional baseball circles as the home of the Jackson Mets/Generals (Class AA; Texas League) from 1975-1999, before hosting the Jackson DiamondKats (independent; Texas-Louisiana League, 2000) and the Jackson Senators (independent; Central Baseball League, 2002-2005). It has been used in more recent years by Belhaven University’s baseball program, and will see even more events in 2020 under the management of Tim Bennett’s KSG-Overtime Sports.
Louisiana Tech baseball will make it one of its home venues for the 2020 season, as it is set to play three Conference USA series at the ballpark. That will be in addition to Bellhaven’s 19-game home slate, along with next month’s SWAC-MEAC Challenge.
For the Smith-Wills Stadium, a busy college baseball schedule is part of the plans for its future. Bennett reached an agreement with the city to take over management of the facility last year, and has indicated that renovations and an active schedule that includes high school and college baseball is part of his strategy for the ballpark. More from The Vicksburg Post:
The SWAC-MEAC Challenge will feature nine games between Jackson State, Alcorn State, Southern University, North Carolina A&T, Florida A&M and Western Illinois.
The tournament was previously held in New Orleans’ Wesley Barrow Stadium and has been relocated as part of Overtime Sports’ transformation of Smith-Wills Stadium into an NCAA Academy in Jackson, much like the MLB academies built in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston, and Puerto Rico.
“Our plan is to renovate and create a place where local high schools, colleges and universities from all over the country are invited to come and play games at Mississippi’s oldest professional baseball facility — Smith-Wills Stadium — and get a taste of true southern hospitality,” Overtime Sports owner and founder Tim Bennett said in a release. “This is an example of the validity and usefulness of older stadiums all over this country. These are places where baseball can still live and thrive along with so many other events.
Louisiana Tech will make Smith-Wills one of its homes away from home beginning in March. Its own J.C. Love Field was heavily damaged by a tornado in April 2019 and will not be available this season. The Bulldogs will instead split their home schedule between three cities in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Louisiana Tech is planning to rebuild at the J.C. Love Field site by the 2021 college baseball season, but Smith-Wills Stadium is one of the venues that will host 2020 home games for the program. Two additional Conference USA series will be played at Louisiana-Monroe’s Warhawk Field, while non-conference games will take place at Ruston (La.) High School.
Image courtesy Bellhaven University.