Thursday, April 26, 2007
Baseball wrapup: one county school in playoffs
By CLAUDE VINSON
The Marshall County hardball teams have found the roads to the post-season playoffs rough, if not downright impassable. Except for one glaring exception, all teams fell short.
The largest school in the county, Holly High, has chosen not to field a baseball team the past several years. Potts Camp, H.W. Byers, Byhalia and Marshall Academy have been consistent performers.
The H.W. Byers Lions, under coach Eddie Dixon, made history two seasons ago by making the cut for the first time. They made history again last season by winning playoff games. That season was 18-4.
“This was supposed to be our best season. We had all good players returning. We had experience at all positions. But somehow it didn’t come together,” Coach Dixon said.
The Lions will lose one of their best hurlers, Brandon Starnes, this year along with four other seniors - Tristan Kizer, Justin Stephens, Victoren Hooker and Gerard Marion.
“We are going to have a good pitcher returning, T.W. Bryson. We are going to have to get back on the winning track,” Dixon said.
Coach Bubba Brown and the Byhalia Indians have been the standard bearers for the public schools in Marshall County for the last five seasons. In ’05 they went to the North Half finals. In ’06 they were put out in the first round by the Water Valley Blue Devils who went on to win it all. This year the Indians finished 5-16.
Brown loses three seniors - Montrell Hardaway, Demarious Moore and Cordarryl Sanders. He said all three of those Indians “are going to be missed.” He started two freshmen and two sophomores.
Brown said left-hander Dean Miller, who kept their losses down to the narrow margins of one or two runs, will be back next year. Backing him up will be other members of the pitching corps like Chris Hill, Marcus Thomas, Andrew Brown and freshman Charles Lyles. Brown said the Indians definitely plan to contend next season.
The Potts Camp Cardinals, who have not enjoyed the playoff experience for many years, hope to rectify that under new head coach Tim Carter. Carter, in his second year at Potts Camp, went 2-9 his first year and 3-16 this year.
“We are dedicated to building this program from the ground,” Carter said. “Our plan is to get better and better each year.”
The Cardinals are losing two experienced players, Eric Tucker and Cody Barrett. Tucker was one of the Cardinal pitchers.
“We have two good throwers coming back, Billy Mitchell and Cody Watts. Both have experience and we are counting on them. We have a big task ahead, but I think that we are up to it.”
Marshall Academy is the lone state championship contender this time around. Coach Jimmy Hicks’ 25-3 team faces Central Hinds in a best two-of-three, opening round playoff series this week.
It’s the Patriots’ first playoff appearance since 2003, when they fell to Oak Hill in the opening round. That team, which was district runner-up, finished the season 20-8.
“I’m proud of what this team has accomplished, but I told them we’re just now starting,” said Hicks, in his fourth season as head coach. “Playoff time is special. This will be great memories for these guys that will last forever.”
The Patriots are ranked fifth by The Clarion-Ledger in the Mississippi Private School Association top five (all classes).
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