April 12, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Will McReynolds doesn''t want his senior season to end with a whimper.
On Thursday, he had two doubles and scored two runs against Donnie Tabb and did everything he could to get his teammates pumped up.
Unfortunately, the New Hope High School baseball team lost to Neshoba Central and dropped to third place in Class 4A, Region 4, District 4.
On Saturday, McReynolds added two hits in the first three innings to help propel New Hope to an 11-5 victory against Columbus on Senior Day at Trojan Field.
The Trojans (18-9) recognized seniors Josh Ferguson, Derrick Saucer, McReynolds, Tyler Shepherd, Tony McBrayer, Devin Herring, Daniel Bogue, Hilton Gibson, and T.J. Upton before the game.
New Hope then went out and built on a 13-4 victory against Houston on Friday night in its regular-season finale.
"We need what New Hope had a long time ago, that''s Trojan pride," McReynolds said. "We need to bring back what all of the old players had. We have signs all across the outfield fence. The signs mean a lot to me. We need to get all of the momentum, because if you get momentum you''re going to win games."
McReynolds pumped his fists after doubling off Tabb in his first two at-bats in a 5-2 loss. His show of emotion could have been the biggest display by a New Hope player this season. He said the Trojans will need that kind of fire and intensity if they want to survive past Hernando and the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
New Hope will play host to Hernando at 6 p.m. Friday in the first game of the best-of three series. The second and if-game will be played Saturday at Hernando.
McReynolds, an outfielder/catcher, said the Trojans have played with the requisite intensity on some days, especially in the bigger games, but he said it has waned when things start to go bad for one or two players.
He said finding a way to maintain a positive approach and mind-set will be key to keeping the season going.
"I am ready to go out with a bang. I am not going to give up," McReynolds said. "It is going to start now. I am going to keep my teammates up. I am not going out my senior year second, third, fourth place.
"We are going to win a state championship. We have all of the talent in the world. We are the best team in Mississippi. We have the best talent, the best arms, and the best bats. We just need to show up right now."
New Hope coach Stacy Hester agrees his team has the potential and the pitching to make a deep run in the playoffs. But he said time is short if the Trojans want to realize that potential.
"When Will makes that statement, I hope a lot of people make that statement," Hester said. "I feel like Will and some of the seniors who may not have had the type of year they wanted (need to set the example). I know the will to win is there, but you have to do it on the field and not talk about it.
"This team could play for the next five weeks or it could be out in one round. I hope everything will click for them."
Shepherd had a two-run single in the first, and pinch hitter Davis Lee had a two-run double in the third.
Hester said he has seen signs like those two at-bats all season. He said it''s just a matter of putting everything together and making sure the Trojans pick each other up and play with focus and intensity.
"When a team responds and does something positive, we don''t always have that response," Hester said. "We have to come back and respond. That is what good teams do."
Columbus (8-12) has one week remaining in its season. The Falcons won''t participate in the playoffs, but coach Jeff Cook has said most of the season that his team is close to putting it all together.
He said his team''s biggest problem has been errors and not coming up with a big hit to make opponents pay for their mistakes.
Columbus committed only one error Saturday, but it failed to deliver a clutch hit that could have helped it rally from 10-2 deficit after the third inning.
"We didn''t get a couple of calls to go our way," Cook said. "New Hope took advantage of a call and scored some big runs, which was something we were not able to do. They capitalized on the situations, and that is something we''re trying to teach our kids to do."
Dylan Anderson started for Columbus and lasted only two-plus innings before being relieved by Billy Autrey. The Trojans used three hits and two errors against Anderson and Autrey to score seven runs to build the eight-run lead.
But Columbus didn''t allow the mercy rule to come into effect. Josh Tentoni''s home run in the seventh closed the scoring.
Columbus will play host to Tupelo at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Greenville-Weston at 3 p.m. Saturday on Senior Day.
Cook said the Falcons still have a say in which team wins Class 5A-District 1. If Columbus beats Tupelo, Starkville would win the district title.
"We want our guys to play hard and to keep getting better," Cook said. "We have been preaching to them that they have to play every play full out, and we have been trying to teach them that you don''t know who is watching at any time. We just want to keep building on that and keep improving. Like I said, we''re really close. We just have to get some guys to be a little more consistent so we can end our season on a positive note."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.