COLUMN: West Marion building head of steam

COLUMN: West Marion building head of steam


COLUMN: West Marion building head of steam


If the rest of the prep baseball playoffs are going to be as intense and exciting as last week’s opening round, then color me stoked.

Last week, both Hattiesburg and Columbia pulled off dramatic series victories in comeback fashion. The Tigers and Wildcats each lost game one of their respective three-game series, only to come back home and sweep both ends of their playoff doubleheaders to advance to the next round.

Possibly even more impressive is which teams Hattiesburg and Columbia beat to advance. These were no also-rans that got into the playoffs because they won one region game or something like that. No, Terry was ranked No. 8 in the state with a 19-5 overall record before Hattiesburg was finished with it.

And Poplarville has Dandy Dozen pitcher and Mississippi State signee Zac Houston, as well as junior Blake Ladner who had more wins and a better earned run average than Houston.

Not to mention that Hattiesburg’s series victory was its first since the Tigers won a state championship in 2006.

There was also Petal’s mauling of Natchez, and Lumberton forcing its series versus Loyd Star to a third game before losing.

W. Marion on a roll

But possibly the most impressive performance of the first round was West Marion’s sweep of Hazlehurst in the 3A playoffs.

The Trojans entered the postseason with an 11-11 record, compared to Hazlehurst’s 12-15 mark. Nothing overly remarkable about that, really.

Except when you take into consideration that the last time West Marion made the playoffs was 2006, and the last time the Trojans won a postseason series was 1999, it makes it a little more special.

It’s also the first time West Marion has made the playoffs since Brandon Thornhill, who was a senior first baseman on the 1999 Trojan squad, was named head coach.

Convincing victories

Thornhill’s Trojans not only beat Hazlehurst, they did so convincingly.

In game one, Junior Wells and Tyler Williamson combined to throw a four-inning perfect game. The contest was shortened as a result of the mercy rule.

West Marion won the second game 6-3.

Thornhill said this year’s version of the Trojans is similar in some ways to that ’99 squad — which lost in the South State finals — but also somewhat different.

“I think offensively, we’re better than that ’99 team,” he said. “’99 was a better pitching group, but offensively and defensively, this is a better group.”

Now, West Marion has defending state champion Southeast Lauderdale to deal with. But Thornhill’s bunch is confident.

“They believe in themselves. They know the scenario and where we’re trying to go, so they’re really focused right now.”

Contact sports writer Jason Munz at 584-3107. Also, follow @munzly on Twitter.

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