BELDEN – The Pontotoc Red Sox know how to win.
“No. 1 is we’ve got to throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone,” veteran Pontotoc coach Nicky Browning said. “We’ve hit the ball pretty good all year. Sometimes we have a tendency to get the ball up in the zone.”
Browning has the experience to go along with the knowledge, as does his Legion baseball team. The Red Sox were 11-2 until a recent slide, but a roster full of area prep standouts has the ability to end the slide.
There are plenty of sticks, as Browning alluded to, guys who carried big bats for their high school teams last spring. Scott Pala (Hernando), Peyton Callahan (Houston), Ryan Watts (Pontotoc) and New Albany’s Ben Foster each contributed two of 16 hits Friday in a 7-0 win against Florence (Ala.).
“We’ve had a lot of guys step up. It’s different ones every game. If we play well, we’ve got a chance to play with anybody,” Browning said.
TCPS grad Stephen Sexton and Houston senior Austin Burdine had three hits apiece on Friday.
Callahan, Watts and Foster were named to the Journal’s All-Area team. Two are continuing their careers in junior college, while Watts hit over .500 for the season as a junior.
The pitching is more than capable. Booneville’s Joseph Caver was 4-0 after Friday and Watts has already tossed a no-hitter, in the Brooks Robinson Twin Lakes Classic at Mountain Home, Ark. Pontotoc graduate Landon Tutor played a big role in that win – another guy to step up.
Three of Pontotoc’s first four losses came to out-of-state teams in Missouri, Louisiana and Florence. Two of those losses came in tournament finals.
Booneville handed Pontotoc its other loss for a 15-4 mark entering Saturday pool play in the Tupelo 49ers Invitational.
The state tournament is scheduled at Petal later this month. Pontotoc will be trying to continue a string of successful runs.
The strategy is simple.
“We’re winning a lot more than we’re losing, so far,” Sexton said.