By Brandon Speck
BELDEN – Now’s the time for that shutout loss against Class 6A power DeSoto Central to pay off. And a shutout loss at Grenada. And those shutout losses against Pascagoula and Bartlett, Tenn.
Tupelo Christian jumped head-first into a fire this season with a young lineup.
The early scalding has helped the Eagles (14-10) into the second round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs after a sweep of reigning champ St. Joe, which beat TCPS in last season’s North finals.
“They’ve been sponges. They’ve been listening, very coachable,” TCPS coach Will Lowrey said. “We are starting to hit our stride right now, starting to hit the ball.”
So young, it’s hard to keep tabs on just how many underclassmen are contributing. Five started Friday.
“It’s been five or six all year, freshmen, sophomores all year,” Lowrey said.
On the rise
Sophomore Austin Laney threw three-hit ball in 41⁄3 innings in Friday’s 8-3 win. Freshman catcher A.J. Bratton drove in a pair of runs. Junior Andrew Lipscomb had an RBI double.
TCPS ended the season hitting .244 as a team, but that’s where struggles were expected. J.G. Lipscomb’s .466 is tops. The next highest is senior Devin Orr’s .279. Freshman John Mark Jolly is hitting .254.
It’s also a good time to peak, that coach-speak term coaches use to define the height of their team’s play. Looks like that time for Lipscomb, a dominating hurler. Among the youngsters, Lipscomb is showing how seniors are supposed to do it.
In a 7-1 Game 1 win at St. Joe, Lipscomb not only struck out 13 and allowed only one hit, not one ball left the infield.
TCPS will now face Ingomar, fresh off its own sweep of Thrasher. Youth can be a lot of things, including a problem for some teams.
“There’s no problem there.” Lowrey said. “This has been such a great group.”
The Eagles will face Ingomar, with Myrtle and Smithville in the other North semi, starting Friday.