Bruce's 2012 title helped to erase painful memories

By Blake Long/Special to the Journal

For almost three hours on a Monday morning in May 2010, the Bruce High baseball team sat in the Hinds County Courthouse awaiting word on whether they would be allowed to continue their season or not.
The week before, that same team had won the Class 2A North championship to secure their first trip in school history to the state title series, or so it seemed.
A report led the MHSAA to disqualify the Trojans from the state championship after a Bruce player pitched more than the 17 innings per week allowed by a state rule.
Parents of the Bruce athletes filed an injunction in the Hinds County Chancery Court. The Trojans, however, were denied reinstatement to the playoffs and left the state capitol that day with sour tastes in their mouths.
Two years later, Bruce ended their season in Jackson again. Only this time, they did so on a much different note.
Bruce ran through the playoffs and made the most of their first official appearance at the MHSAA Baseball Championships, sweeping defending state champion Taylorsville to claim the 2012 2A crown.
The trophy helps to erase the sour feeling the seniors and juniors who were in that courtroom were left with.
One of those seniors, Jay King, started on that team as a sophomore and used their elimination as a motivational tool for himself and his team.
“Having that taken away from us was a big reason I wanted to get down here,” King, the winning pitcher over Taylorsville in Game 1, said. “Everybody on this team wanted it, I guess, worse than anybody down here.”
Game 2 winner Chase Clark noted while winning a state title is amazing, the circumstances that he and his fellow upperclassmen endured made it even sweeter.
“Winning a state championship for the first time is going to be awesome anyway,” he said, “but being able to win it after you already should have played for it once before just makes it that much more exciting.”
Trojans coach Josh Dowdy knew the pain his players felt when he took over the program this season and used it to his advantage.
“I knew that hurt them and set them back a little bit,” said Dowdy. “I told them ‘I want you to remember that time when they took it away from you. Let’s get back there and show them we’re supposed to be there.'”
Bruce did just that by eliminating Hamilton, the team that took their place in the 2010 championship series, then Hatley to punch their ticket to Jackson.