By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Golden Wave baseball team has been the standard bearer of success among the major athletic programs at Tupelo High School recently.
Today, the diamond Wave carry that standard south, and run square into a team that has thwarted Tupelo the past two seasons – the Madison Central Jaguars.
It is the semifinal round of the Class 6A State Baseball Tournament, with the Wave at Madison Central today at 6 p.m. in Game 1 of the best-of-three series. Tupelo and Madison Central have faced each other for three straight seasons at this point in the playoffs, and the Jaguars have prevailed each of the last two meetings.
Tupelo head coach Gary Enis is ready to change that trend over the next three days.
“We’ve played two tough series, gotten a little momentum, gotten a little confidence, and that’s real big in the game of baseball,” said Enis, whose program is making its fifth straight appearance in the semifinals. “We’re planning to go down there and play better on the road than we have of late, and take the momentun we have into Madison Central.”
But it is a tall chore for the Golden Wave.
Madison Central (30-1) has rolled through its two playoff series undefeated, and is ranked No. 6 in the nation by the PowerAid Fab50 poll.
Tupelo (28-3) was as high as No. 7 in this same poll before falling to No. 13 after losing a game in each of its playoff series.
“They’ve got five quality pitchers, and their batting order 1-9 are tough outs,” Enis said. “They’ve put up some big innings against quality teams, and we have to stay away from that.”
Tupelo will send senior Ben Hudspeth (9-2) to the mound as the Game 1 starter, with senior J. D. Roberts (8-1) set to throw in Friday’s Game 2, which is set for 6 p.m. in Tupelo. Also for Tupelo, junior Ben Aldridge has been a rock on the mound in four playoff appearances for the Wave.
Tupelo bats in the post-season have seen clutch swings from senior Conner Carothers.