April 26, 2009
Speed and athletic ability are keys to winning baseball games at West Lowndes High School.
In the 12 years that Todd Stanley has been the baseball coach at West Lowndes, the Panthers have tried to use an aggressive style on the basepaths to score runs.
That was the case Friday night when West Lowndes manufactured a pair of runs to beat the Edinburg Eagles 2-0 and advance to the third round of the Class A state playoffs.
"We try to take advantage of it when we can," Stanley said of the running game. "We try to read baseballs in the dirt and usually we''re pretty good at that. We practice that, teach it and hope it pays off."
D.Q. Farmer, who signed a baseball scholarship with Mississippi Valley State, is the leadoff hitter for the Panthers. He knows his ability to run puts pressure on opponents, which was the case in the fifth inning against the Eagles.
Farmer reached on a walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and took third on a throwing error. He scored on another wild pitch.
"Coach Stanley asked me to play a major role in just getting on and I try to play as aggressive as I can," Farmer said. "If he gives me the sign to steal, I will go, but I try to be aggressive any way I can. That''s why I stay on my toes at all times because something might happen."
John Barney doesn''t consider himself known for his speed, but he created a situation to get the other run for West Lowndes.
After reaching on a single, Barney stole second, went to third on an error and scored on an RBI single by Devin Malone.
Barney said the scenario, which led to his stolen base, wasn''t supposed to happen.
"I''m taught to look at the coach and pick up the sign," Barney said. "It was a mistake really, but I managed to get past my mistakes. I''m an average runner, but every opportunity I get, I try to take advantage of it. I got on base and eventually I scored."
The runs by Farmer and Barney were all that pitcher Tyquan Lucious needed as he tossed a six-hit shutout, following a no-hitter against Mount Olive in the first rouund.
Stanley said he has three Panthers who know they have the green like for steal attempts, while the rest of them have to have knowledge of the situation.
Depending on the pitcher and catcher, Stanley wants his runners to be smart while on the bases.
Farmer said Stanley knows what he is doing and values his teaching.
"Coach Stanley is a good coach and all the credit goes to him," Farmer said. "He does a good job of preparing us every week.
"This is great. We know we''ve got two more rounds. We''re already focusing on next Friday."
That''s when the Panthers (20-6) begin the third round against Vicksburg St. Aloysius, which defeated Natchez Cathedral in two games.
Stanley said he was proud of his squad even if it didn''t win another game, but he believes the run can continue.
"We reached the second round last year and lost some players off that team, but I told them we had a chance to be a special team," Stanley said. "This team has chemistry and they play so well together."