Resiliency, thy name is the North DeSoto Griffins baseball team.
In each of their last two Class 3A playoff games, the Griffins have found themselves tied entering their final at-bat. Conjuring just enough backspin on a couple of line drives, North DeSoto has won those games via walk-off error, putting them two wins away from a successful state title defense.
“I hope we have more than nine (lives), because I think we’ve used those nine up,” said Griffins coach Bo Odom, whose top-seeded team will face Parkview Baptist at 10 a.m. Friday in the state semifinals in Sulphur. “This team just keeps battling. Fortunately, not too many people have been able to hold us off.”
The cast of characters, especially the main ones, have changed since last year’s title run, something that is to be expected in high school sports.
However, the Griffins have dealt with a rotating lineup within the confines of the 2013 season. Starting third baseman Louis Vig was unable to play in the field early this season, as he was recovering from arm surgery. Catcher Brenden Meade suffered a broken arm in a late-season tune-up game against Parkway. He was replaced by last season’s starting catcher, Hunter Thomas, who was recovering from shoulder surgery.
“We’ve got guys on the bench who can go out there and play right now,” Odom said. “We’re fortunate to have 14 to 15 guys we feel comfortable putting out at any time.”
One of those is freshman Hunter Speights, who drilled a go-ahead, three-run home run in Monday’s 8-7 win against Eunice.
Speights started the season at third base, as Vig recovered. He picked up a reserve role when Thomas became healthy and has returned to DH duties since Thomas moved back behind the plate.
“That’s amazing,” second baseman/pitcher Austin Pinnick said of Speights. “He’s been in pressure spots all year, and he’s come up big every time for us.”
Pinnick has done so as well.
Last season, the Griffins rode the left arm of Jared West to the state finals. This year, Pinnick, Chip Eubanks and Lane Thurman have made North DeSoto’s pitching staff deeper and, so far, equally prosperous.
Pinnick has 12 wins, including all three postseason wins for the Griffins.
With several of Pinnick’s wins coming in relief, he could be accused of vulturing wins from Eubanks and Thurman.
Given the success North DeSoto has enjoyed en route to a second straight semifinal berth and a 28-4 record, the pitchers don’t mind who gets the credit.
“I doesn’t bother me,” Eubanks said. “As long as we’re winning, that’s fine with me.”