Playoff time for three county teams

TIPPAH COUNTY — High school baseball playoffs begin Friday for Falkner, Pine Grove, and Ripley. The Falkner Eagles (15-2, 9-2in Division 1-1A) hold the best record in the county and look to keep their momentum going as they enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The team’s losses came at the hands of division-leading Wheeler. The Eagles earned home field advantage with their impressive division showing and will start game one of their best of three playoff series at Hickory Flat before returning to Falkner to host a Saturday double-header if necessary. This season is a far cry from last year, when the team started the season at 8-1–just as they did this season—but because of injuries, finished the season just 13-8. “I’m very pleased with our playoff position, but of course I would have liked to been No. 1,” said Falkner Coach Carl Rowell. “The hitting and base-running have been our strong points this season, but you can’t deny that the pitching has done good. It’s just worked out for us this year. Everything has just fell right where it’s supposed to fall.” The Eagles travel to Hickory Flat Friday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Times for Saturday’s games were incomplete at press time and will be listed in Saturday’s edition of the Southern Sentinel. Ripley For the second time in as many years, Coach Jamie Russell has the Ripley Tigers (12-12, 5-3 in Division 3-3A) in the playoffs. Friday, the Tigers enter the postseason as a No. 3 seed and will host No. 2 seed Mooreville at 6 p.m. to begin their best of three series. Saturday, the Tigers travel to Mooreville for two games, if necessary. After starting the season 7-2, the Tigers have struggled lately and are 5-9 in their last 14 games, but Russell believes if his team can make the plays on the field, those fortunes can quickly turn around. “You know, you get to this point in the season and everybody’s good enough to be there, so you’ve just got to come out, compete and give yourself a chance to win,” said Russell. “In the playoffs, ain’t nobody going to give it to you. You got to come out and take it. We’ve got to hit the ball, throw strikes, and make the plays when they give us the opportunity.” Pine Grove The Panthers are in the playoffs, but for Head Coach Chris Shinall, the season has been one of frustration, as the Panthers suffered five losses by one run. Shinall said the Panthers have benefited from consistent pitching over the years, but the lack of run support has put a damper on what he believed to be a very promising beginning to the season. “I really thought going into the year, we were going to be in good shape,” said Shinall. “Pitching has been my thing for the past four or five years. Not that we have the best pitching in north Mississippi, but we’re consistent, and that’s all you can ask for in 1A baseball. “We struggled offensively—pretty bad—early in the year putting up two, three, or four runs, and when the pitching comes through and you still can’t win, it becomes a mental thing.” Rain has also been a factor, as the Panthers have had to stack games because of the rainouts. The Panthers’ home stadium drains well and Shinall said that although they haven’t been in as bad a shape as other teams, playing three games in one day can be tough on pitching arms. “It’s tough on the pitching whenever you stack games like that, but at the same time, you have to play them,” said Shinall. “That’s why you don’t just have one (pitcher), you’ve got to rely on three, four or maybe even five throughout the year to get you through.” The Panthers (8-12, 6-5 in 1-1A) enter the post-season as a No. 4 seed and will host No. 1 seed West Union Friday at 6 p.m. Saturday, the team travels to West Union for a double-header, if necessary.

Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel