He’s Smokin: Cloverleafs draw recruits from near, far

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2003

Katherine Ridgway sat in the Bloch Park bleachers yesterday covered head-to-toe in a bed comforter. The 22-year-old from Jackson, Tenn., was watching her boyfriend, Justin Thurman, 25, tryout for the Selma Cloverleafs, a Southeastern Professional Baseball League team. She hadn’t expected the unusually cool weather.

While Ridgway shivered, Thurman was heating up &045;&045; as were the rest of the Cloverleafs’ recruits. Though the chill in the air belied it, this day belonged to the boys of summer, and the men of spring.

Baseball is as sure a sign of the season as the chirp of a whippoorwhill, or the blossoming of a magnolia. Crack of bat, pop of ball …

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For Cloverleafs’ owner W. Gary Wilson, the season holds great promise. With a more potent offense than last season’s team and a pitching staff that should round into form, Wilson’s exuding optimism.

In the back of Wilson’s mind, though, is the constant commitment he has to the people of Selma and to his own players.

The Cloverleafs’ season begins May 30 in a home game against the Montgomery Wings. The team will play 72 games in 76 days over the course of the season.