The Pine Belt was recently pummeled by three straight days of rain, and the soggy weather threw a wrench into the South State baseball playoffs. Never before have I seen a high school baseball game played on a Sunday, much less on Mother’s Day. But that was the last and mandatory resort for the Sumrall Bobcats and the West Lauderdale Knights, who were originally scheduled to open their Class 4A South State Championship series with one another on a Thursday. Three postponements later, we got Sunday Night Baseball at Sumrall’s Larry Knight Field.
To no one’s surprise, the much-anticipated series between the heavyweight programs went three games. After Sumrall completed a seventh-inning comeback for the ages in Game 3 and in the process captured its first South State title since 2015, the Bobcats were off to Trustmark Park to play for the gold glove trophy.
Their Game 3 with West Lauderdale ended around 9 pm Tuesday night, so the Bobcats had about 40 hours to rest and recuperate before their first game at Trustmark Park on Thursday morning.
Forty hours may not seem like a lot. However, it certainly looks like more than enough after seeing the short turnaround the Magee Trojans dealt with. Like Sumrall and West Lauderdale, the Trojans and West Marion went to a Game 3 in their South State series Tuesday. In the decisive game, Magee edged West Marion…..in 14 innings. The marathon game ended around midnight, and Magee had just 13 hours between the contest’s completion and Game 1 of their Class 3A State Championship series with North Pontotoc.
The Vikings went on to outscore the Trojans 21-3 in two games and sweep the series, capturing their first state title in program history. Maybe that’s the result even if Magee has adequate rest and recovery time between South State and Trustmark. From the outside looking in, though, it appears the Trojans were set up to fail in this situation.
I get that rain is both inevitable and unpredictable, but the MHSAA needs contingency plans to prevent things like what just happened to Magee. If need be, push the start of the state championships back a day or two. With the Mississippi Braves not due back in Pearl until the Wednesday after Saturday’s final slate of games, I don’t think pushing it back would be too much of a problem.
If it is, well, there’s always Jackson’s Smith-Willis Stadium, where the state championships were originally played. Now do I want to see that happen? Not exactly, and I’m guessing most would agree. Trustmark Park is an awesome ballpark, and as far as I’m concerned, regardless of sport, its the best state championship venue the MHSAA has to offer. Kids deserve the opportunity to play there. Not only that, they deserve a fighting chance to hoist the trophy.