By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
This season has been a wild ride for the the Nanih Waiya baseball team, but the Warriors hope to close it out in style at Trustmark Park this week as they vie for the MHSAA Class 1A State Baseball Championship.
If the 25-6 Warriors can knock off Greenville St. Joseph for the second consecutive year it will give Nanih Waiya its third straight baseball championship.
“We know it’s not going to be easy,” said Nanih Waiya head coach Tyler Rogers. “They took us to three games last year and they returned a lot from that team.”
While the Warriors have had to battle through some obstacles this season, including a stomach virus that hit several key players hard, Rogers said this year hasn’t been as tough as last season was.
“It hasn’t been as much of a struggle for us as we it was last year,” Rogers said. “It seemed like every series in the playoffs went to game three and we had a lot of close ballgames.”
This season the Warriors used their playoff experience to move through without much of a hitch, although some of the games were tight.
Game one of the State Championship Series was set to begin at 10:30 Wednesday morning at Trustmark Park in Pearl, with game two scheduled for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. as well. A third game, if necessary, would be played on Saturday.
After taking an 11-6 win at Stringer in the series opener on Thursday, the Warriors closed the South State series sweep with a 6-3 win in Nanih Waiya on Saturday.
Ty Higginbotham smacked a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning and Luke Rosamond had a strong performance on the mound, striking out nine and walking just one to go the distance.
“Ty’s homer really got us going, then Wyatt Ball hit a bases-loaded ground-rule double in the third inning to help us stretch out our lead,” Rogers said. Nanih Waiya scored four runs in the third to take a 6-1 lead and give Rosamond the cushion he needed.
Stewart Ball and Higginbotham had two hits each to lead NW in the Saturday game, while Wyatt Ball had his double and Ben Cumberland, Colby Eaves and Zach Hanna had a single each.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning of the opener, Nanih Waiya scored six in the second, two in the third and then sealed the win with three in the seventh.
“The first game was just a complete team effort all the way up and down the line-up,” Rogers said of his team’s 14-hit attack.
Hunter Luke and Wyatt Ball had a single and double each in the game, while Stewart Ball, Eaves, Rosamond and Petyon Jones had two hits each. Getting singles in the game were Higginbotham and Hanna, while Luke drove in four runs.
Eaves picked up the win on the mound, striking out nine in the process.