Panthers are on a roll with a 5-0 start in district playBy TAYLOR HAWKINS,
Yazoo County’s Panthers had a huge 7-1 start to the heart of their schedule, including an important 5-0 start to district play.
The stretch brought Yazoo County’s overall record up to 10-5.
It all kicked off with a district game against Amanda Elzy in which the Panthers thrashed the opposing Panthers to the tune of 29-1.
The momentum rolled on against J.Z. George and Charleston, who the Panthers soundly defeated 17-4 and 11-1, respectively.
Then came a match-up against a much more dangerous foe, the defending 3A champs, St. Andrews.
Yazoo County got on the board in the first inning, but St. Andrews took a 2-1 lead in the second.
In the third inning, St. Andrews extended their lead to 4-1.
Thanks in part to a David Michael Jones 2-run single, the Panthers tied things up at 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning.
That’s when things got a bit dicey.
Yazoo County head baseball coach Corbin Ellis felt a bad call put them in a tough position.
“The weak spots showed up on Saturday against defending 3A champ St Andrews,” Ellis said. “We competed with them the entire game, but a couple of errors and a missed call changed the momentum. Down 4-1, we came back and tied it up with a David Michael 2-run single. The next inning we had missed call at first that would have gotten us out of the inning, but instead, it turned into three runs for St. Andrews. Officials are human, but it’s tough when a missed call changes the momentum.
That’s not to say it was the official’s fault that the Panthers lost.
According to Ellis, they had their opportunities, but they came up short when they needed hits the most and made errors when they needed them the least.
“We also had a couple of costly errors,” Ellis said. “A few hits in the bottom half of the order could have changed that, but we wound up leaving eight runners on base. But that's baseball.”
The Saints outscored the Panthers 6-0 the rest of the way to take it 10-4, putting a speed bump in the middle of Yazoo County’s impressive winning streak.
The Panthers bounced back from the loss in style, defeating Humphreys County 10-3 and sweeping J.Z. George on the season with a 22-2 victory.
The wins set up the baseball version of the Battle of Yazoo, a match-up with archrival Yazoo City High School.
The Indians struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Panthers countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, making it a 2-1 game.
After a scoreless second inning, the Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning to give them a 5-2 lead, a lead they would not lose.
The Panthers tacked on a run in the bottom of the fourth and two runs in the bottom of the fifth to give them an 8-2 victory.
After defeating the Indians, the Panthers were pitted against another local team, this time from the private school ranks, Manchester Academy.
The Mavericks took an early 5-0 lead in the contest, but it happened to be one of the best offensive days the Panthers have put together this season.
Yazoo County outscored the Mavericks 16-1 the rest of the way to win the contest 16-6.
To Ellis, the recent games have shown tremendous consistency at the top of the order, but he wants to see consistent production the whole way through.
“We are starting to hit the ball well, but we need more production out of the bottom half of the order,” Ellis said. “Ben Luckett, Camerson Shaffer, Hunter Barron, and David Michael Jones are seeing at the ball well. Peyton Thrasher, Ethan Hill, and Tanner Evilsizor are beginning to heat up at the plate and will be a big boost to our offense when everything sparks top to bottom.”
The Panthers return to action on Friday when they host Amanda Elzy.
The first pitch is set for 6 p.m.