By Robert Wilson
When four-time defending MAIS state champion Jackson Prep played Madison-Ridgeland Academy last week, not only did it feature two of the top teams in Mississippi, there also probably the only matchup between two assistant coaches who were former major league players.
Prep associate head coach and hitting coach Jay Powell played 11 years as a major league pitcher before an injury ended his career in 2005 while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. Powell was the winning pitcher of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins. He also has the most consecutive seasons pitched without a losing record among pitchers who primarily pitched in relief in major league history. Powell was a star at West Lauderdale High and Mississippi State and was a first round pick in the major league draft in 1993.
Powell, 50, was head coach at Jackson Academy for 12 seasons and has been at Prep for the past three seasons. His oldest son, Wyatt, played football and baseball at JA and played football at Mississippi State. His youngest son, Carson, is a freshman at Prep and plays football, baseball and track and field.
Powell has been a baseball analyst on the SEC Network and on the MSU Baseball Radio Network.
MRA assistant hitting coach and bench coach Chris Snopek played four years as a major league infielder and finished his career in 1998. Snopek, from Kentucky, was a star at Ole Miss and was a sixth round pick in in the major league draft in 1992.
Snopek, 51, has been an assistant coach for eight seasons at MRA. He also established the Snopek Baseball Group Sox in 2020 and has programs in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Auburn, Ala., SBG Sox has had 90 high school players committed to play college baseball in the past two and a half years. Metro Jackson players Hunter Hines (Madison Central and MSU) and Niko Mazza (MRA and Southern Miss) are two of the current alumni from the SBG Sox program. Snopek also has a softball program (Snopek Softball Group).
Snopek’s oldest son, Christopher, played baseball at MRA and is playing at Harvard. His youngest son, John Witt, is a sophomore at MRA and is the starting third baseman.