Head Coach: Trey Sutton
Previous Year Record: 17-10 (overall); 8-1 (Region 5-5A)
First Game: vs. Stringer on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.
Key Players: Dustin Dickerson, Evan Bynum, Kris Riley, Walter Thompson, Hayden Byran.
What Coach Sutton had to say:
“We only have two seniors this year (Evan Bynum and Hayden Bryan), and both are good ball players. We have a big junior class. Some of them played a lot of innings as sophomores last year. So we’re expecting progression and big things out of them this year. We even have some ninth and tenth graders that might see some time on the field this year.
“We have a good mix, age-wise, and now that I am in year two here I’ve seen things begin to flow better. It doesn’t take as long to explain how things need to be done because they’ve been through it already for a year now and that’s been a big help.
“On paper, we feel pretty good [about our team], but we still have to go out and play good baseball.”
“I feel we have a lot of arms that can get people out. Kris Riley is back, Dustin Dickerson is back, and Evan Bynum is back. Hayden Bryan had a good fall [on the mound] and looked improved from last year. And then we have Luke Leggett who logged some good innings for us last year. Sam Hill is a tenth grader that we’re looking to take that next step and be a factor for us this year. And even after those guys, you have Walter Thompson and several others who can throw. As far as depth goes, I feel pretty good about it. I know we have a handful of guys that are complementary to our bell cows we have that will start games.
“We will have the luxury of having some short leaches on guys if they for some reason don’t have it on any given day because of our depth.”
“I look for us to be much improved from last year. Like I said before, we have a bunch of sophomores that logged a lot of innings for us last year and just having that year to grow stronger and develop physically helps. You see balls now coming off their bats better, so that is exciting to me. And we have guys, like our two seniors, who have been in the program for a while now and they will be solid for us.
“And on the base paths too, it goes with the natural development of teenagers. We are seeing guys show up this year with more speed than they had last year. I’m excited about that. We’re not only looking to steal more bases this year but even the little things like going from first to third on hits.
“Our overall team speed is up from where we were last year. And speed is a big deal so I’m excited about where I think we can be offensively.”
Class 5A Baseball:
“When you start in region, it’s always a dogfight every year. Jordan Rogers at South Jones always has his guys prepared. They will always be a tough game. And Ian Sharp does a good job at Wayne County. I look for Laurel to be better this year too. There is no such thing as an easy game anywhere. If you show up any night and you’re not ready to play, you will get beat. As coaches, we have to be sure were mentally ready for every game.
“Then you look outside the district, and there’s Hattiesburg. They have loads of talent and highly touted in some national publications. Pearl River Central, who won Class 5A last year is back, and they haven’t lost a whole lot. They will be tough again. If you take a look at 5A South, you would be hard-pressed to find a tougher group of teams to come out of as a whole.
“There’s going to be a lot of good teams in the playoffs, and it will come down to whose playing the best baseball during that time. Like we tell our guys, half the battle is just believing that you belong there and that whoever you step on the field with, you can beat them. That is what we are stressing.
“We talk a lot about the big picture, but we also stress day by day. We can’t be focusing on May when it is just February. We have to worry about what’s going on right now.”