By Daily Journal
TUPELO – One year ago, the Tupelo Golden Wave baseball team was coming off a draining Class 6A state championship series against Petal.
Back to the present, after a tremendous change in the postseason fortunes of Tupelo, the Wave begins their summer schedule at Itawamba AHS today in a 5 p.m. doubleheader.
The Wave failed to make the playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years, losing to Columbus 2-0 April 17 its last game of the regular season.
And one year ago, there were five schools – Falkner in 1A, Mantachie in 2A, Mooreville in 3A, North Pontotoc in 4A, and Tupelo in 6A – from the area in state championship series. Only Bruce in 2A and Kossuth in 3A made it to their respective championship series from this corner of the state this year, with Bruce successfully claiming at state title.
“It’s been different,” Tupelo head coach Gary Enis said. “And it’s tough seeing that Madison Central is playing for the state championship. “I think of the defensive plays we could have made but didn’t, and the offense just wasn’t there.”
The Wave finished the season with a 17-10 record. Graduating senior Brayden Owen led the team in batting with a .395 average, while catcher Dylan Vuncannon stepped onto the mound for the his first-ever varsity action to post a 3-1 record with a 3.00 ERA.
The Wave closed the season overall on a solid note, winning 12 of their final 15 contests. “Tupelo baseball is used to competing at a high level,” Enis said. “Now we’re going to play a few summer games, mix and match some guys, and that’s how we’ve gotten our lineup in the past.
“We always count on our seniors so much, but I think the competition will be wide open for next season.”
About the only area of the Tupelo roster that might have a bit of certainty is the pitching staff, with a number of rising juniors.
Enis points to Carter Clayton (4-0), Hudson Roy (3-3), Ty Wheeler (1-0), and Luke Weeden, who were all sophomores and all made at least two varsity appearances in the just concluded season, as front runners for the 2013 season, along with senior to-be Ben Matthews. For the 2012 season, only five wins returned from the previous year.
“Summer baseball is always important,” Enis said. “We’ll be keeping an eye on who produces, and who makes plays.”
Also this week, Tupelo will host IAHS on Thursday at 5 p.m.