By JOEL COLEMAN
Eupora's Charles Morton and East Webster's Jamie McKee have spent their high school baseball careers as rivals.
Saturday, they'll conclude their prep days as teammates.
Both Morton and McKee will be a part of the Class A/2A/3A North All-Star squad at the 37th Annual All-Star Baseball Games to be played at Trustmark Park in Pearl, finally getting to battle alongside each other rather than against each other.
"We've been friends for awhile," said McKee of his relationship with Morton. "On the field, we always like to beat each other, but (our relationship) is good off the field."
So good, in fact, that McKee and Morton have spent their time preparing for Saturday's game as roommates.
"I played with Jamie when I was little," said Morton. "We're always joking and things."
Solid players individually, Morton and McKee should provide quite a spark for the North club come Saturday.
Morton proved as much in 2011 serving as Eupora's premier offensive threat while also serving as an outfielder and pitcher.
"He stayed consistent all year and that's the key about what he did," said Eupora head coach Lee Berryhill. "If you can perform consistently day in and day out, that's what you look for."
Morton, a Meridian Community College signee, said he's glad to represent Eupora in a contest featuring some of Mississippi's top baseball talent.
"It feels good to play with and against some of the best players in the state," said Morton. "It's hard to say how good it feels to be here and how fun it is."
McKee feels the same way.
"It's cool to play with all these guys," said McKee. "I didn't think I was this good, but here I am and they're letting me play."
Despite McKee's humbleness, there's no doubt in the mind of East Webster head coach Wes Johnson that McKee deserves his All-Star spot.
"He had a real good year," said Johnson. "He hit around .340 and played a great defensive shortstop. Overall, he had as good if not the best year of any of our seniors."
The only thing that could perhaps sweeten McKee's senior campaign is a victory on Saturday.
Morton plans to do all he can to make sure both he and McKee are on the winning side.
"When we get on the field, it's going to be serious business," said Morton. "I'm friends with everyone here, but when we step on the field, that's over. We can be friends after the game."
First pitch of the Class A/2A/3A game is set for 1 p.m. and will be a nine-inning contest. Morton and McKee's North team is coached by Josh Miller of Calhoun City and Rod Crumbly of Edinburg.