By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It was a cold night to be playing baseball.It was the 2011 season-opener.
All potential distractions, but just the type of thing Tupelo coach Gary Enis wants his Wave to put at the back of their mind each and every game.
The Wave appeared only focused on the matter at hand – beating the Mooreville Troopers – which Tupelo did by an 8-1 score Friday in the season opener for both squads.
“It was a cold night, but all of that was tuned out,” Enis said. “There was a lot of focus tonight.”
Part of that focus was apparent on the mound for the Wave. Ben Hudspeth got the call for the Wave, and turned in a solid performance with six innings in which he allowed three hits while striking out 11.
“It was just a great performance by Ben,” Enis said. “And we set the tone early with our offense. Even a few of our outs were hard-hit. Overall, I’m proud of our offense, putting the ball in play.”
Tupelo scored all of its runs in the first four innings, beginning with a two-run bottom of the first. Junior Dylan Vuncannon had an RBI single, and senior Luke Davis a sacrifice fly to help Tupelo to the early lead.
The Wave then plated another pair in the third as senior Blake McCullough doubled, then was knocked in by Hudspeth. Tupelo also scored on an error later in the frame.
The Tupelo bats then chased junior Mooreville starter Matthew Pannell in the fourth inning, beginning with a two-run single by Cody Shrewbury. That was followed by a two-run home run to left by Davis.
“We gave them too many outs, and we didn’t hit the ball well enough,” said Mooreville’s Jamie Russell, who was coaching his first contest after replacing the retired Rex Berryman, the all-time winningest baseball coach in the state. “I’m just proud to get it started, and I just want us to compete, not beat ourselves.”
While Tupelo was scoring its eight runs, Hudspeth recorded 10 of his strikeouts against the first 12 batters he faced. Junior Ben Aldridge came on for the Wave to strike out three in the seventh inning.