Senior Joshua Gelston and junior Jason Berry provide a unique advantage to the Raiders’ pitching staff with their powerful left arms.Panthers’ senior second baseman Brent Pigg takes some batting practice during an afternoon practice this past week.Manchester seniors (left to right) Ben Fouche, Will Bearden, David Coody and Demarcus Mahone will be vital to the success of the Mavericks’ season. The rainy weather hasn’t kept Dontarious Brown and the rest of the Indian baseball team from preparing for the upcoming 2012 baseball season.Rivalry game to lead off 2012 season
By TAYLOR MITCHELL
As a player trains during the off season, with hours and hours of work in the gym and on the field, it’s that first game on the schedule that makes the player work harder. If that first game just so happens to be against your biggest rival, it’s just more motivation to work harder in the weeks leading up.
Benton and Manchester Academies fall into that exact category this baseball season. The two schools, separated by roughly 11 miles of highway, will lead off the 2012 baseball season this week when they meet on the diamond Monday evening.
“We look at this game like it’s one of the biggest of the year,” Benton head coach Brent Woods said. “There’s bragging rights on the line with the kids. It means a lot more to the community, fans and players than it does to how long our season lasts.”
“It’s intense,” Manchester head coach A.J. Downs said. “It’s a rivalry game, the first game of the season. We’re just going to have to throw strikes and make plays. We try to take each game one at a time because it doesn’t matter who you play.”
The last meeting between the two schools ended in a 12-11 victory for Manchester, despite the Raiders scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning. This year’s game, however, is just one of several rivalry match ups between local schools in Yazoo County.
Along with Manchester on its schedule, Benton will also face Yazoo County. The first ever meeting between the two schools was an instant success and the match up is being looked at with heavy anticipation.
“That game was a lot of fun,” Woods said. “The coaches were really coaching hard against us. They wanted that game badly and so did we. It felt like a new rivalry. It was a good turnout. It turned out to be really big.”
“That’s the one they get excited for,” Yazoo County head coach Corbin Ellis Jr. said. “That and Yazoo City. Last year, the fans turned out. The Benton Academy game was probably our biggest crowd.”
As always there is the other biggest rivalry in Yazoo County between the Indians of Yazoo City and Yazoo County. Last season saw a complete sweep of the Panthers by the Indians and it is a trend that has continued over into every other sport (with the exception of one girls basketball game). On March 6, when the Panthers host Yazoo City, revenge will be on the menu.