By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The 2011 season for the Tupelo Golden Wave baseball team was very workman-like, but turned into an exciting run through the playoffs, ending in a Game 3 loss to Petal in the Class 6A championship series.
How does head coach Gary Enis match that in 2012?
The Wave start answering those questions today, hosting seven games over two days in the Tupelo Classic. Tupelo plays Lafayette today at 7 p.m., and Saltillo Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I don’t want to compare teams, but we’ve got some guys who can play this year,” said Enis, who is entering his ninth year as the head coach. “Our job is to put them in the right positions.
“We may start off slow, then get hot as we go. There are a lot of questions, and they will be answered in games.”
Few questions surround two seniors – Dylan Vuncannon and Ben Aldridge.
A catcher and infielder, Vuncannon far and away has the most experience of anyone on the team. Equally experienced on the mound is Aldridge, who shouldered a tremendous workload on the Wave pitching staff in the playoffs, especially the last two series.
“We’ll start Dylan off at catcher, and he’ll play some infield, and has shown recently he can pitch,” Enis said. “As far as pitching, Ben is the guy coming back, and we’ll expect our guys to feed off him.”
Vuncannon hit .376 last season for the Wave, with 117 at bats. No other player on the current roster had more than 28 at-bats last season.
Tupelo finished with a 31-6 record last season, with Aldridge going 4-2. The Wave graduated 26 of those wins.
That void of experience by seem daunting, but Enis has proven the knack for reloading instead of rebuilding.
Tupelo’s infield will have limited experience with seniors Peyton Wade at third, and Caleb Walker at second. Senior Brayden Owen is at short, with Aldridge and junior Kyle Cofer at first.
The Wave outfield will see seniors Colby Trotter, McKamy Smith, and Hunter Allred, backed up by juniors Rob McCauley and J. G. Miley, and sophomore Hudson Roy.
Aldridge, Owen, and Roy have the edge as the top three on the pitching staff.
“I think we have a lot of talent that people have overlooked,” Vuncannon said. “We also have a lot of speed, and a pretty good infield.”