April 19, 2019 2:17:10 AM
Postseason baseball is back.
Starkville, New Hope, Caledonia and West Lowndes will embark on their 2019 tournament runs this weekend.
In Class 6A, Starkville will take on Hernando High School at 6 p.m. Saturday at home.
The Yellow Jackets' offense is anchored by Thomas Tucker and Jack Perry. Tucker enters the playoffs hitting .372 in 62 plate appearances, while Perry sits second on the team with a .352 batting average, according to MaxPreps.
Starkville coach Luke Adkins also mentioned Jackson Owen as one to watch at the plate. Owen is hitting .250.
In Class 4A, New Hope and Caledonia will play in the bottom half of Quadrant 2. New Hope will begin its campaign against Gentry at 6 p.m. Friday at home. The Trojans enter the contest at 17-5 with wins in four of their past five games.
"The playoffs are awesome," head coach Lee Boyd said. "This is my 10th year and New Hope (and) the playoffs just bring out the best in everybody."
New Hope will rely on seniors Rye McGlothin, Payton Springfield, Tyler Murphy and Jonathan Whittington. All four players are hitting .333 or better in at least 69 plate appearances.
McGlothin committed to play baseball at East Mississippi Community College on Wednesday.
Springfield and Whittington will also anchor the Trojans' pitching staff. The former comes into the weekend with a 0.96 ERA and 6-1 record, while the later is 1-0 and boasts a 2.10 ERA.
Springfield's last postseason appearance included a start in last season's state championship series loss against Vancleave.
"It's best two-out-of-three, so you know you've got to play your best," Boyd said. "I guess that's kind of what brings out the best in everybody -- you can't sleep on anybody."
Caledonia will take on Corinth in its opening-round series at home.
After five seasons at Starkville, this is head coach Travis Garner's first season at the helm. The Confederates have won four of their previous five games against Mississippi teams.
"We expect a dog fight," Garner said. "These two- and three-seed games, there's really not a whole lot of difference in them and we're going to have to go up there and play well."
Caledonia will be led by its only two seniors, Beau Bates and Cade Stacy.
Bates is hitting .412 with 10 RBIs, 25 runs and 11 stolen bases on the year, while Stacy holds a .320 average with 18 RBIs. The duo has been similarly dominant on the bump.
Stacy has the better record at 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched. Bates is 4-3 and holds a 2.97 ERA.
If both teams advance, New Hope and Caledonia would meet in the next round.
"If that does happen, man, it'll be a tough series," Boyd said.
West Lowndes will appear in the 1A playoffs against Ethel at 6 p.m. Friday. Despite a down season, the Panthers won their final district game -- a 16-1 victory over Okolona April 9.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch.
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