MANTACHIE – There’s no doubt Mantachie belongs in this week’s state championship baseball series.
The Class 2A Mustangs proved that on the field by beating 3A Mooreville and 4A North Pontotoc, two teams playing this week for their respective state titles, too.
“We beat Mooreville this year for the first time in a long time,” said senior right-handed pitcher Colin Minga. “Then we beat North Pontotoc. It’s great to be able to say that.”
Minga, who’s 10-1 with a 1.50 ERA, will be on the mound at 1 p.m. today when Mantachie (21-6) plays Taylorsville (21-12) in the first game of the MHSAA Class 2A best-of-three series at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. A third game, if necessary, would be played Saturday at a time to be announced.
“I can remember when we beat Mooreville in that last game with Minga,” Mustangs coach Scott Collier said. “That showed this team we could beat anybody.”
Mantachie did just that in the playoffs, sweeping Bruce and Hamilton – two North state semifinalists last season – in two games. The Mustangs also defeated East Webster in three games.
Despite his success, Minga doesn’t want the star label.
“We don’t have any individual stars,” he said. “We’re playing together as a team. We all trust each other and we’re having fun.
“What’s happened is really unreal. We’re going to Jackson! It’s been great for the school and the community.”
Minga is joined on the mound by another right-hander, senior Matthew Prochaska, and sophomore righty Cody Chatham.
Senior shortstop Zack McCoy is batting in the .400 range in the leadoff spot. Another senior, Chance Cooley, has been a starter since the eighth grade. He can play third or in the outfield.
Cole Stephens, a sophomore first baseman, leads the team in home runs with seven.
The catcher is senior Shawn Thompson, who started the season in left field, but was switched behind the plate early in the season.
“It’s the best move I could have made,” Collier said. “The guys hustles and does a good job.”
This is Mantachie’s first trip to the state finals. The Mustangs reached the final four in 1983 under a previous playoff format, but lost two straight games.
“I felt two years ago that this year would be our best chance to reach the finals,” Collier said. “I figured if we didn’t do it this year, we might not get it done.
“These kids bought into the system. They believed we could do it.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal