Area schools offer help to Amory baseball, softball teams in wake of tornado destruction

Mar. 27—When a powerful tornado sliced through the Amory High School campus Friday night, it could have spelled the end of baseball and softball season for the Panthers. But schools all over the region are working to make sure that isn't the case.

The EF-3 tornado flattened Amory's baseball and softball complex, ripping off the press boxes and demolishing the field house, leaving uniforms strewn about the destruction. The football stadium also suffered heavy damage, with light poles felled and the press box tossed onto on the field.

"The first thought is, what are we going to do?" Amory athletics director Chad Williams said Monday afternoon. "The longer you look at it, you start thinking, OK, what about these seniors? How are we going to finish these seasons?"

Other athletic programs in the area quickly reached out to offer aid. The Tupelo and Nettleton softball teams, for example, are collecting equipment for Amory's players, including game balls, bats, helmets and gloves. Several high schools, as well as Itawamba Community College and Northeast Mississippi Community College, have offered Amory the use of their facilities for practices and games.

"You name a school in North Mississippi, and I'll tell you they've called us," Williams said.

Williams said the earliest Amory's baseball and softball teams will be able to play is Saturday. The softball squad is scheduled to play in a tournament that day at Smithville, while the baseball team has a game at Saltillo.

Compounding the stress for Amory's coaches is the fact that the tornado damaged several of their houses. Many of them live in the Meadowbrook Circle neighborhood, including baseball coach Chris Pace. His home sustained damage to its front and back porches as well as the roof.

Williams, Pace and several other coaches were helping neighbors Monday by securing tarps over damaged roofs. As for rebuilding Amory's athletic facilities, Williams said it's too early to tell how that will go.

"What'd I love to tell you is, 'Hey, man, we're going to build everything back and everything's going to be that much better.' I can't tell you that, because I don't know."