Divide and conquer, Melissa Rogers said, is the motto of she and her husband, Stacey.
The married couple of 24 years are in a unique position this week. By the end of the week, the Rogers family could have two championships.
Their oldest son, Dalton, is a sophomore relief pitcher for No. 1 seed and nationally ranked Southern Miss, which is playing host to the Conference USA Tournament this week in Hattiesburg.
Their youngest son, Evan, is a senior starting second baseman for nationally ranked Northwest Rankin High, which is playing for the MHSAA Class 6A state championship this week at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
“We are always on the run somewhere, but we love every minute of it,” said Melissa, who juggles her job as a healthcare recruiter with her sons’ baseball schedules. “We’ve been doing this for years. Stacey and I figure out where the games are going to be and divide up if we have to, but we try to go together if we can.”
Like Wednesday night, both Melissa and Stacey were able to go together watch Southern Miss’ 4-3 victory over No. 8 seed Alabama-Birmingham. Dalton pitched part of the seventh and eighth innings and retired three of four batters without giving up a hit to help the Golden Eagles to the victory.
“The game ended after midnight and we got home around 2, but it was exciting,” Melissa said.
Over the years, they have had plenty of late nights keeping up with Dalton and Evan playing baseball and soccer. Dalton and Evan also both played soccer growing up and played a few years on Northwest Rankin’s high school team.
Their busy schedule has loosened up a bit because Stacey retired after 20 years of running the Fed Ex Ground business in Brandon last October. It has freed him up to watch more baseball.
“These boys have been playing baseball since they started T-ball when they were five years old,” Stacey said. “And we’ve been right behind them, totting everything every step of the way. We are very fortunate to have two sons who work hard and are good players.”
Melissa played slow pitch softball at Belhaven. Stacey ran cross country and track at Tupelo High and played recreation baseball in Tupelo.
“They get their talent from their mom,” Stacey said.
“I remind the boys of that often,” Melissa laughed.
Here is Friday’s schedule: Southern Miss is scheduled to play at 10 a.m. so Stacey will go to watch the game while Melissa works. Then Stacey will come back home and both he and Melissa will go to watch Northwest Rankin at 7 p.m. in Game 1 of its best of three series against Desoto Central in Pearl. If Southern Miss loses Friday morning, the Eagles will play at 5 p.m. Friday and the couple will adjust then. If Southern Miss wins Friday morning, the Eagles will play at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Northwest Rankin plays Game 2 Saturday at 7 p.m. at Pearl.
The C-USA Tournament championship game is Sunday afternoon. Northwest Rankin could wrap up its championship Saturday night, but if the teams split Game 3 is Monday.
Both Dalton and Evan have had outstanding seasons.
Dalton, who transferred from Jones County Junior College, has appeared in 19 games with 1-1 record with 5 saves, a 1.76 earned run average and 46 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings this season for Southern Miss, which is ranked No. 14 by DI Baseball. He is one of the reasons why Southern Miss has the second lowest team ERA in the nation.
Evan, a Jones County JC signee, is hitting .305 and leads the team with 40 runs scored and 25 stolen bases this season for Northwest Rankin, which is ranked as high as No. 5 nationally by Baseball America.