High Cotton: Small Leagues in the Deep South a Recipe for Success in 2020

Small Collegiate Leagues in the deep south are preparing for a feast of talent. Two leagues, in particular, the North Louisiana Collegiate League and the Cotton States league have their sights set on acquiring elite players that were once unattainable for their smaller single-location programs. 

The North Louisiana Collegiate League is located in Shreveport La. The league is headed by commissioner Dustin Brown who lives just across the river in Bossier City. 

“The way we set up is great for guys who work or go to school.” Commissioner Brown stated that the games are slated to only play on weekends from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, so players can still earn a paycheck or knock out some credit hours during the week. All the games in the NLCL are played in the city of Shreveport. Deals have been made to secure hotels for weekend stays.

“A lot of players will come for the weekend, turn around, and go home on Sunday.” In current times this is a much healthier model for potentially limiting the spread of Covid-19 than relying on host families. Host families are typically in a much more vulnerable age group and, for the most part, are unable to house players this year.

The NLCL and their unaffiliated peers cross-state in the Cotton States League have both stated that they are getting much more interest from players that had originally signed to play in leagues that have canceled or seem unlikely to play. The two leagues have had so many new players from power 5, mid-major D1, D2, and top JUCO conferences that both leagues are considering adding 2 more teams to fill roster spots. For Commissioner Brown, his ultimate goal is to expand his league footprint to Gulf Shores Alabama. He hopes to utilize this year’s success to create a league that can draw a decent herd of spectators when distancing orders are over, while maintaining his proving ground division in Shreveport. The Cotton States League, however, plans to remain a staple of local baseball.

Just across America’s big river, the Cotton States League is situated in New Albany Mississippi, and named after the classic league that began play in 1902. The proud inhabitants of New Albany are 100% behind their single-town baseball organization. “We are very much a part of our community.” Frank Dodd the director of baseball operations and former military jet pilot said. “We do this for our guys it’s not to make money.” Coach Dodd works alongside the Cotton States commissioner, Sam Creekmore. Mr. Creekmore is a legislative member of the state government of Mississippi. Local ordinances are passed and vetoed regularly during Creekmore’s day job. The state congressman will do everything in his power to keep the ballpark open while ensuring the safety of his players, coaches, umpires, and locals.

“We are centrally located near some prolific talent.” Coach Dodd lauded, New Albany is about an hour from Memphis and equidistant from Starkville & Oxford Mississippi, home of Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Much like in Shreveport, the CSL stacks all of their games on the weekends, getting out no later than 6 pm on Sunday. “We have players representing 55 institutions of higher learning from 9 different states.”     

With hotel housing established in Mississippi as well as Shreveport, the numbers are staggering. Certainly, if players are looking to gain an advantage after this hiatus, Cotton States & the NLCL will be thriving southern magnets for talent as well as a platform for much needed playing time.

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