June 2, 2010 12:27:00 PM
Tradition-rich high school baseball programs New Hope and Hamilton will be well represented Saturday in the D.M. Howie Mississippi High School All-Star Baseball Games.
Both schools will have two players take the field at Trustmark Park in Pearl for the games sponsored by the Crossroads Diamond Club.
New Hope will be represented on the North squad by Jake Smith and Philip Tice in the Class 4A-5A-6A game at 1 p.m., while Hamilton''s Dylan Earnest and Kevin McCartney will play for the North in the Class A-2A-3A game at 6 p.m.
Smith and Tice were chosen after helping New Hope (23-8) make it to the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state playoffs, where the Trojans were eliminated by Hernando.
"It is good for our program," New Hope coach Lee Boyd said of having two players selected all-stars. "I''m really proud of both kids. They both had good seasons. Both played a big-time role in the success we had this year. It''s good for them to get to play against good talent across the state. It ought to be a good day for them."
Smith and Tice are good friends and will be roommates when they report to Pearl at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Smith, who signed with East Mississippi Community College, was a key contributor on the mound and at the plate for the Trojans as a senior this season. As a pitcher, he was 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA and he struck out 44 batters in 32 1/2 innings. As a hitter, he batted .361 with four doubles, one triple, five home runs and 18 RBIs.
Smith and Tice are the first New Hope players to be chosen to play in the game in five years.
"It means a lot," Smith said of being selected. "I''ve had a good year and hopefully it will continue. I''m going to go down there and have fun and play ball."
Tice was an ignitor for the Trojans by hitting .389 with seven doubles, three triples, one homer, 28 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
Tice is also looking forward to participating in the game.
"It means a lot," Tice said. "It''s an honor. I want to see good pitching We''ve never played anybody from the South and I''m looking forward to seeing the pitchers."
Meanwhile, Earnest and McCartney were instrumental in helping Hamilton (22-6) make it to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A state championship seires against Richton.
"It''s not only a compliment to them, it is to us as a program, too," Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said. "It speaks highly of the whole program. They''re both deserving. They both had good years and careers. We''re defintely going to miss them.
"Kevin was my lead off hitter all year and he got things going for us. A lot of times he''d set the tone for the day. Dylan was the same way on the mound, usually."
Dylan Earnest and McCartney look forward to having an opportunity to be teammates one more time.
Dylan Earnest (11-1, 0.80 ERA) was a dominant lefty on the mound for the Lions, pitching perfect games against Calhoun City and Shelby Broad Street. He allowed only nine earned runs and 13 walks, while he struck out 154 batters in 78 2/3 innings (an average of 13.7 strikeouts per game).
Earnest, who signed with Itawamba Community College, also contributed at the plate by hitting .442 with five doubles, three triples, three home runs, 33 RBIs and 28 runs scored.
"It''s kind of an honor," Dylan Earnest said of being selected to play in the game. "Hopefully we''ll win. Hopefully I''ll have a good game. There will be some scouts there and hopefully I''ll perform well in front of them."
McCartney set the tone as the Lions'' lead off hitter and he batted .422 with six doubles, three home runs, 17 RBIs and 41 runs scored. He was a thief on the basepaths by stealing 13-of-16 bases.
"It''s a pretty big deal because there are a lot of teams in the state so it''s an honor," McCartney said. "For two people from the same team to go is a pretty big deal.
"I''m just looking forward to seeing all of the other good players in the state because we don''t get to play against all of them. "I get to see some of the kids from the South. That ought to be pretty fun."
McCartney played summer travel baseball with Mooreville''s Tyler Awtrey and will join him on the North squad.