By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Kossuth is crashing the party. East Union hasn’t made the trip since 2007. Both teams are in Pearl this week for the MHSAA Baseball Championships at Trustmark Park.
“Were not supposed to be here,” Kossuth coach Daniel Threadgill said.
He’s right. The Aggies (19-13) were here last season with a talented senior group. Eight graduated, including seven starters and the whole pitching staff.
People have assumed new roles and Kossuth will try to add a championship trophy to the second-place statue it had to settle for last season.
The road won’t be easy. Game 1 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday against Sumrall (23-11), winners of three of the last four Class 3A championships. But Kossuth had its back against the wall all season, including in an 18-inning North final Game 3 Sunday at Independence.
The Aggies have used a lot of pitching due to postponed playoff games and Sunday’s marathon game. Sumrall will have all its pitchers fresh and nowhere near the 17-inning limit.
Kossuth pitcher Josh Whitaker hurled 12 innings Sunday, leaving him with five remaining this week. “I hope we still have something left this week,” he said following the Aggies’ 5-4 win against Independence in the second longest high school game in state history.
Youth has had to take a role for the Aggies. Freshman Jacob Wilcher has led the way with a .479 batting average.
URCHINS HAVE EARNED IT
East Union (22-14) has solid pitching and hitting and maybe the state’s toughest non-division schedule.
The 2A Urchins’ slate included Class 5A Saltillo and Oxford, 6A Tupelo and a pair against Alabama power Spanish Fort.
Taylorsville wrapped up its South title last week. Rain postponed East Union’s series against Baldwyn until Monday, making pitching a concern, especially with the now-limited use of pitching ace Cody Bo Dillard’s seven remaining innings.
“I think all of us are concerned about that,”East Union coach Chris Basil said. “But I’ve probably got the best young club I’ve ever had. We’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys throwing for us.”
Taylorsville is making its third straight trip to the finals. Game 1 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today.
Dillard, a Northeast CC signee, is hitting .419 with 30 RBIs and has stolen 20 bases in 20 attempts. He also has a 1.16 ERA and is 8-4 coming off summer elbow surgery.
East Union’s formidable lineup will face an equally dangerous Taylorsville (28-4) lineup led by senior Mason Sam Walley. Walley sports a 9-2 record and leads the Tartars with seven home runs and 35 RBIs.