In what has become an annual tradition of sorts, Yazoo County’s baseball season has been marred in the early portion due to a plethora of rain.
The lack of consistency and continuity have made it difficult for the Panthers to get into a groove thus far.
Still, the Panthers have been able to get some games in, and the result is a 3-4 record.
After missing some early games, they finally got onto the field against Leflore County to officially kick off the year.
The Panthers made the most of it with a 15-0 victory in only three innings.
Yazoo County followed the victory up with a pair of games against local private school powerhouses: Manchester Academy and Canton Academy.
The Panthers lost the pair of games by a combined score of 25-7 to drop to 1-2 on the season.
According to Yazoo County head baseball coach Corbin Ellis, being unable to practice consistently has made it difficult to play consistently.
He believes errors and a lack of hitting have caused the lopsided scores in the opposition’s favor.
“We’ve been up and down so far this season, but that has been expected due to limited on field practice because of the weather,” Ellis said. “We have opened up the season with some tough competition, but we are a much better team than what those scores represent. Not taking anything away from anyone we have played, but it is hard to win games when you are only getting two or three hits a game and committing five-six errors per game.”
In the fourth game of the season, the Panthers got back to their winning ways with a 13-1 thrashing of Canton High School, giving them at least a modicum of revenge against the town of Canton.
But back-to-back games against Ridgleland and Terry slowed down Yazoo County’s momentum
After a difficult 4-2 loss to Ridgeland, the Panthers fell 12-3 to Terry to drop to 2-4 on the season.
Ellis thought the Panthers looked good at times, particularly against Ridgeland, but against Terry, the worst of their flaws were on display for all to see.
It was time for the coaching staff to study the tape and figure out exactly what the problems were.
“Our two wins prior to Raymond were good wins, but we still were not playing up to our potential,” Ellis said. “The Ridgeland game, even though it was a loss, showed what we can do, but we were still struggling at the plate, which carried over into the Terry game. We were having two-three hits per game. We spent Tuesday of spring break videoing and analyzing swings trying to figure out the problems.”
Desperately needing a win, Yazoo County faced off with Raymond on the road on Thursday.
The Panthers looked better on offense immediately, scoring three runs in the top of the first before Raymond cut the lead to 3-2.
Raymond tacked on a run in the second and a run in the third to take a 4-3 lead.
The two teams exchanged a run in the fourth to push the score to 5-4 in favor of the Rangers before the Panthers finally hit their stride in the top of the fifth inning.
In the fifth, the Panthers got hot and put up five runs to regain a 9-5 lead, but the Rangers scored a run in the bottom of the inning to cut it to 9-6.
Yazoo County scored one run in the top of the sixth and two in the top of the seventh to take the game 12-6
All of the scouting by Ellis and his staff paid off, as did the work by the players.
“Thursday's game against Raymond saw us collect 19 hits and produce 12 runs,” Ellis said. “We had two minor miscues on defense that did not cost us, so we are starting to find our groove, and we are going to be tough to beat once we find that groove. All the credit goes to my players, because they came out every day over spring break working on these swings, and the work definitely paid off against Raymond.”
Cameron Shaffer went 2-for-5 with two doubles.
Hunter Barron had a massive game, going 5-for-5 with four singles, a double, and three RBIs.
Ben Luckett 3-for-5 with single, double, a solo homerun, and four RBIs
Ethan Hill went 3-for-4 with three singles and an RBI in the victory.
David Michael Jones had three singles and an RBI in the win.
Donavin Green had an RBI single.
Ben Pennington and Matthew Hughes each had a single.
Ethan went the distance on the mound for the Panthers, earning the win in the process.
Ellis was proud to see his seniors step up when they needed them the most.
“We squared the ball up well today with 85-90% of our hits being solid line drives,” Ellis said. “We only had three-four pop-ups the entire game. Seniors stepped up today. Cameron, Ben, David Michael all came through with big hits in crucial spots. Hunter joined us after basketball season and has been hitting the ball well, and will also help us out on the mound. Seniors Ben Luckett, Cameron Shaffer, Tanner Evilisizor, Dylan Parker, Ben Pennington, Sid Burrough, and David Michael are picking up where they left off last year at their respective positions.”
The Panthers returned to action on Tuesday against Amanda Elzy, but it was not upon completion by press time.
The Panthers play at home on Wednesday against J.Z. George at 6 p.m., at home on Friday against Charleston at 6 p.m., and against St. Andrews on Saturday at 2 p.m. on the road.