Backs against the wall, the Purvis Tornadoes played “Purvis baseball” Friday night, according to coach Tony Farlow.
Entering the week, the team had an opportunity to finish as high as the two seed in Region 7-4A, but a loss to Poplarville on Tuesday made Friday’s rematch feel like a must-win.
Farlow believes Wednesday’s practice was their best of the year, so really it’s no coincidence the Tornadoes got back to their brand of baseball when they needed it the most.
“We didn’t wanna leave it in the hands of somebody else,” Purvis senior Mason Kendrick said.
Along with several others, Kendrick was honored prior to the game during Senior Night festivities. On this night, the right-hander drew his first-ever district start on the mound, and he made it one to remember, tossing a one-hit shutout in leading the Tornadoes to a 4-0 win over Poplarville and a playoff berth.
“We wanted to take it ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did,” he added.
Rather than roll with his usual Friday starter, Dakota Lee, Farlow opted to shake things up and start Kendrick. Utilizing an effective curveball, he had Poplarville’s bats off balance all night long.
“The thing about Mason, he can throw his curveball for a strike, and he’s done it all year,” Farlow said. “So he’s not wasting a pitch when he throws his curveball. If you throw curveballs for strikes, most people are gonna have trouble hitting it.”
In his seven innings of work, Kendrick threw 88 pitches and struck out six of the 22 batters he faced, giving up just one hit and issuing just one walk.
“It feels good because I haven’t been out there in a while,” he said. “I got hurt last year and didn’t get to pitch, so this was actually my first district start. It’s also my Senior Night, so not bad.”
One of Purvis’ other seniors, Parker Sharff, provided big-time run support for Kendrick with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. The blast was a welcome sight to Farlow.
“That’s what we’ve been missing this year—the long ball that gets everybody excited.”
Sharff, along with Hunter Robinson, had two hits apiece to lead the Tornadoes, and Dakota Lee was responsible for driving in their other run, which came in the first inning.
Now at 12-9 overall, Purvis will conclude their regular season next Monday with a non-division game against Lumberton. After that, it’s playoff time. The Tornadoes will be the three seed out of Region 7-4A, finishing just ahead of Greene County, who, along with Poplarville and Sumrall, is also postseason bound.
“Coming out of our division, to me, it doesn’t matter to me if you’re first or fourth,” Farlow said. “Our division is really tough, and we’ll be able to match up with anybody in any other division. Anybody in our division will, we just need to be playing good.”
Purvis will open the Class 4A playoffs late next week against an opponent that has yet to be determined.