29 May

buckle up

Trustmark Park in Pearl will be filled this week with Urchins and Hornets and Dragons and Knights. The MHSAA state championships begin Tuesday. Twelve teams from every corner of the state will decide six titles. Mr. Baseball picks from three classes are among the throng of players who will take the field. There will be players who’ll go on to bigger schools and bigger things, and there will be many for whom this is their last hurrah. Emotions will run high.
The best-of-3 battles begin Tuesday morning with a gathering of Eagles: The Class 1A finalists are West Union and Resurrection Catholic from Pascagoula. Greer Manning tops West Union with a .485 average and eight homers and a 1.62 ERA on the bump (per MaxPreps). Cole Tingle has been a sparkplug for Resurrection with a .414 average and six pitching wins.
The second feature on Tuesday is Amory-St. Stanislaus in 3A. Amory went 30-4 despite playing most of the season with no home field after the devastating March tornado. Walker Maranto and Bryce Glenn have led the Panthers through. The Rock-a-Chaws from the Coast are powered by Chesley Rhodes (.468, seven homers, 43 RBIs.)
Saltillo and East Central meet in Tuesday’s 5A nightcap. Drake Douglas and Baylor Roberts were clutch performers for Saltillo’s Tigers in the North series win against Ridgeland. Southern Miss signee T.J. Dunsford — chosen Mr. Baseball in 5A by the MHSAA and the Mississippi Association of Coaches — leads the East Central Hornets from Moss Point with .434 average.
On Wednesday, the Urchins from East Union battle the Dragons from Pisgah in 2A. East Union’s Rett Johnson, Mr. Baseball in this class, is hitting a sizzling .545. For Pisgah — just 20 miles down the road from Pearl — Colton Coleman hit .437, scored 33 runs and stole 12 bags.
In 4A on Wednesday, Mr. Baseball JoJo Parker, a Mississippi State commit, leads the Purvis Tornadoes with a .482 average, 15 homers, eight wins and a 1.66 ERA. West Lauderdale’s Knights feature Cannon Graham and Brett Busbea, who came up big in the North clincher vs. Mooreville.
The 6A final — Wednesday’s finale — matches Lewisburg and Gulfport, who knocked out Germantown and Northwest Rankin, respectively, in the North and South finals. Austin Hannigan, a .358 hitter with 20 steals, and MSU signee Gage Haley (.345) are among the leaders for Lewisburg’s Patriots. For Gulfport’s Admirals, Dawson Hall had a monster series against Northwest Rankin.
Game 2 in each series is set (in the same order) for Thursday and Friday. Any Game 3’s would start Saturday. Six celebrations are guaranteed.

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