By Todd Vinyard
Where is the best high school baseball in Mississippi played?
How about division 4A which boast Oxford, Tishomingo County, IAHS, and Alcorn Central among others. It is so good Tishomingo County coach Jimmy Long thinks his Braves may be better than last years 28-10 record and state semifinal berth and still struggle in the always tough 4A wars.
“I would match our division against anybody in the state,” Long said. “You definitely have to be ready to play every day.”
Oxford’s Roger Smith, whose Chargers were Division runner ups to Tishomingo County last year with a 19-10 record, agrees.
“Our division is extremely competitive every season,” he said.
Oxford is drawing a lot of preseason attention mainly due to Ole Miss baseball signee Chad Hill. The senior shortstop hit .391 with 8 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .981 fielding percentage for Oxford last year.
“A lot of what we do depends on Chad, and he doesn’t let us down often,” Smith said.
A new Oxford face to watch for may be junior outfielder A.J. Cochet.
“He has the potential to be the next great player from this program,” Smith said.
But other coaches agree to make any noise in Class 4A you are going to have to go through Tishomingo County. Six starters return while the Braves will search for replacements at second and third base.
Right handed pitcher Ricky Lambert will be counted on.
As a sophomore last season Lambert complied a 9-3 won-loss record and a 2.98 ERA. The 1995 Daily Journal All-Area team member struck out 74 batters in 74 innings.
Lambert can also swing the bat as his .436 average and 4 home runs shows.
Junior shortstop Blake Holley helps the Braves with the bat and glove.
Alcorn Central, Itawamba AHS, Lafayette, Holly Springs, Olive Branch, and new comer Hernando should make 1-4A interesting as usual.
Senior pitcher Jamie Rock should be the ace of the IAHS staff. Rock has gone 14-3 over the last two seasons.
“Jamie mixes up his pitches really well, and continues to improve,” IAHS coach Brian Long said.
Two years ago IAHS made it to the second round of the 4A playoffs before losing to Louisville. Last years 19-8 season is even more impressive when you look at the quality out of division opponents Itawamba faces like Tupelo and Mooreville.
“We have always felt you have to play good people to get good,” Long said.
The 2-4A division features Aberdeen, New Hope, Kosciusko, Houston, Louisville, Noxubee County, Neshoba Central, and West Point.
In 3-4A you have East Side, Yazoo City, Canton, Cleveland, and T.L. Weston. While in 4-4A south the line up is Pearl, Magee, Northwest Rankin, Wingfield, Bryam, Crystal Springs, Mendenhall, and Port Gibson.