'Lessons' on diamond will help Wave district run

The Green Wave’s B.R. Watson drives in two runs against Mooreville Saturday
Staff Writer

Three weeks before the start of tough 5A district play that includes Lafayette County, Saltillo, and Grenada, the West Point High baseball team is getting some valuable lessons.

And that will bode well as the young-but-experienced team makes a bid for the playoffs in late April.

"We only have two seniors, but have several kids who got a lot of experience last year. Our main nine or 10 have played a lot of baseball," Green Wave coach Blake Hutchison said Monday as the team prepped for rival New Hope today.

Davion Goree and Marquez Carter give the team imposing four and five hitters in the heart of the lineup and productive bats in the one through nine spots.

"Marquez decided last year he wanted to be a good baseball player and he has really worked at it,” Hutchison said. “He's swinging the bat as well as anyone right now.”

"And we've got some good arms, consistent arms," Hutchison said, reeling off Gray Berry, Roe Ketchum, Baker Watson, Goree, Seth Edwards and Jake Chambless as his top six on the mound. They saw action in a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to Houston Friday night and a 5-4 thriller over Mooreville Saturday.

Although smaller schools, both Houston and Mooreville are traditional state powerhouses in their classifications and this year is expected to be no different.

Hutchison is keeping his staff on a short leash, trying to avoid wearing out young arms early in the season. He said he will continue with that formula against New Hope today, even though the two schools are friendly rivals.

"We love playing them. It may not be a district game anymore, but we still are rivals. And they have such a great history. Our kids know what it means to play New Hope," the coach said of the Trojans, who dropped down to 4A this year.

In the Mooreville win, the visitors went up 2-0 with a pair of runs off Ketchum in the fourth. Even with the two runs, Ketchum had a good stat line, allowing just one hit in four innings while striking out seven.

Five walks caused the trouble. The Green Wave got it back, plating three runs in the sixth before Mooreville answered with two in the top of the seventh off Edwards to go back on top 4-3.

In a rally that made their coach happy, Xavier Moody got hit by a pitch, advanced on a passed ball and scored on a hit by Ketchum. Gray Berry reached on a fielder's choice, made his way to third and raced home with the winning run when Davion Gore swung at a third strike on a curve ball in the dirt and the ball got away from the catcher and went to the backstop.

Edwards gave up five hits and two runs with a walk and a strike out in three innings.

Berry, Ketchum, Goree, Carter, and B.R. Watson each had a hit for the Wave with Watson driving in two runs.

"We kept fighting and found a way to win,"Hutchinson said. "We fought Friday night and just didn't have the luck. We made the plays Saturday. That's what the kids need to learn to do, especially against good teams. Good teams make ways to win."

The Wave broke out on top against Houston with four runs in the first and had the bases loaded with nobody out but scored no more runs.

Berry cruised through the first five innings, giving up three hits while walking one and striking out three. He threw just 62 pitches before the coach brought in others to keep him rested.

Houston rallied with three in the sixth and one each in the seventh and eighth to go up 5-4 before the Wave tied it with one in the eighth.

Houston went ahead with one in the top of the ninth.

The Wave had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Hilltoppers' third baseman snagged a shot and threw the runner out at the plate and the Houston pitcher made a tough play on a hot one-hopper up the middle for another out at the plate.

"We hit them hard and they made good plays. We can learn from that," Hutchison stated. "We struck out 11 times and left 13 men on base and had nine walks. We had opportunities and didn’t take advantage. Those are the lessons we will learn."

Edwards, Ketchum, Goree and Baker Watson each had singles in the game while Berry, Carter and B.R. Watson had doubles. Carter had two RBI while Berry, Goree and Brandon Lairy had one each.

After New Hope, the Green Wave has home and away games with Kosciusko before New Hope visits Monday.

The squad has Columbus, Starkville, Eupora, Caledonia, Amory, Houston, and Cleveland Central on the schedule in March before it opens district play March 20 at Saltillo and then back at home March 23 against Saltillo.