E.A. Sports Today

The local angle

Oxford prepares for Park opening; trip for exposure in jeopardy; Briskey to sign with Southern Union

The Oxford baseball team is scheduled to play the first game on the signature field of Choccolocco Park Friday. (Photos courtesy of the City of Oxford)

The Oxford baseball team is scheduled to play the first game on the signature field of Choccolocco Park Friday. (Photos courtesy of the City of Oxford)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The day Oxford baseball has been waiting for since the last out of its last home game last season is upon them and the Yellow Jackets couldn’t be more excited about it.

The newly crowned Calhoun County baseball champions are scheduled to play the first game on the signature diamond at Choccolocco Park Friday night. The Jackets will throw the first pitch in the new park against Central of Clay County at 5:30 p.m., and then play Brooks.

Consider it a second Opening Day.

“It’s going to be great,” pitcher Dillen Miller said. “We’ve been looking forward to it, dreaming about it. It’ll be our first home game.”

Before they step onto the field for real, they plan to go through a game-day dress rehearsal Thursday with everything from pulling the tarp and playing the national anthem to batting practice in the cage and infield-outfield warm-ups. Even the public address and scoreboard personnel will be involved. They will leave no detail unattended.

“We’ve all been looking forward to it ever since we heard we were going to be getting a new complex a lot,” third baseman Nate Lloyd said. “We’ve not gotten to play a home game yet so we’re pretty excited about that.”

The Yellow Jackets have eight dates scheduled for the “Complex” this season, including Saturday and an important area game against Pell City April 14. Among the local teams scheduled to provide the opposition are Cleburne County, White Plains, Jacksonville and Wellborn.

“That’s a first-class facility out there, as good as there is anywhere in the state,” Oxford athletics director Larry Davidson said. “We’re excited and appreciate the city to allow us to use that facility. Our kids won’t play on a better facility anywhere. We’re excited to get it rolling.”

Asked if he had anything special planned for the first time the Yellow Jackets stepped onto the new field, Lloyd said, “we’re all trying to do something special.”

A LITTLE HELP: Aniyah Robinson was quite excited when she learned of her invitation to the NoKaOi volleyball showcase in Hawaii in July. It’s an opportunity to get in front of nearly 30 college coaches in a part of the country she wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.

But the chance of a lifetime is in danger of being spiked as the Jacksonville junior outside hitter faces a deadline to meet the registration fee. She has raised about half of the $4,500 it’ll take to make the trip, but she’s running out of time. She initially had a March 31 deadline, but camp organizers, understanding her personal circumstances, have extended it to April 31.



“It’s kind of stressful; it’s just dangling over my head,” she said. “I can reach it, but it’s going to take a lot more than just me. I don’t want it to pass me by … but I just try to be positive and keep at it.”

Robinson was one of the mainstays of the Golden Eagles’ run to the Class 4A state semifinals, bringing a needed consistency to their attack. She had more than 400 kills, nearly 100 digs and 34 blocks. She had 18 kills in their five-set semifinals loss to Brooks.

“I thought she had a great year for us, not playing varsity before and coming in and doing the things she did,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “She’ll get more consistent the more she plays, but I thought she did a great job for us in terms of kills and being a factor for us offensively.”

The showcase invitation was extended for more than her ability on the floor. Robinson plays volleyball and basketball, competes in track, holds down a job at a local fast-food restaurant and takes care of her disabled mother, a wheelchair-bound Marine veteran. And she does all that while maintaining a 3.85 grade point average in the classroom.

“It’s really hard to try to balance it, but with wanting to do a lot and still come out on top it takes responsibility and a lot of sticking to it,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think I had to grow up fast, but I had to get smart and responsible real quick.”

Robinson has set up a Go Fund Me page for prospective donors (www.gofundme.com/AniyahShowcase) and plans to stage a few local fundraising events before the deadline.



BRISKEY TO SIGN: Saks senior volleyball standout Jordan Briskey is set to sign with Southern Union Monday.

Briskey was the power that helped Saks reach the Elite Eight in the Class 4A state tournament. She had planned to go to Gadsden State, but a shoulder injury prevented her from attending tryouts there and eventually the program had exhausted its complement of scholarships.

She passed on an opportunity to walk-on there, but then had a chance to tryout at Southern Union. She missed the first day there, but the coaches were still impressed enough to offer her a spot.

“I really am glad it worked out,” Briskey said.

A HELPING HAND: The Ohatchee track and cross-country program is putting together a 5K run to help support and defray medical expenses for the mother of one of its athletes.

The Purple for a Purpose Glow Run 5K is scheduled for March 25 at Ohatchee High School. The night starts with a one-mile fun run at 6 p.m. followed by the main event at 6:45.

Entry fee for the 5K is $30 and $15 for the Fun Run. Registration opens at 4 p.m. the day of the race.

For more information contact cross country coach Casey Howell at 343-1438.

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