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Poplarville opens playoffs at Stone

It won’t exactly be two teams coming into the postseason on hot streaks when Poplarville visits Stone High to open the Class 4A South State playoffs Friday night.

But to either the Hornets or Tomcats, none of that will matter when one advances to the second round.

Poplarville travels to Wiggins for game one of the best of three series before returning home for game two and three if necessary on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m., Friday and 1 p.m., Saturday.

Both teams were swept in the respective region finales last week, as Long Beach secured the Region 8-4A crown by taking two straight from Poplarville and Stone fell from second place in Region 7-4A to third place in the league after getting swept in two straight games by Moss Point.

“Winning Friday would be big for either team, especially from a confidence standpoint,” first year Poplarville head coach Jimmie Agent, who guided his Hornets to a 17-7 overall mark and an 8-4 mark in league play, said. “We both got swept last week… so the team that gets off to a good start, it could make a difference.”

Agent is expected to send ace Ashley Graeter to he hill in game one. Graeter is 7-2 on the season. The teams met once already this season, as the Tomcats took a hard fought 3-2 win a month ago over Graeter and the Hornets.

“I really don’t think it makes much of a difference that we’ve already played them,” Agent added. “Maybe having already seen Ashley once might help them a little. We’ve got to find a way to score some runs no matter what if we are going to win.”

Stone comes into the game at 15-8 on the season, and the two losses to a subpar Moss Point team meant that Vancleave slipped into the second spot behind region champs East Central in 7-4A.

Stone is paced at the plate by Kris Rouse, who is batting over .400 on the year. He and Ross Weathers have also both smacked five home runs apiece.

Brandon Cavataio (5-1) is the Tomcats top pitcher and beat the Hornets in the earlier meeting. Dustin Watts is also expected to see time on the hill for head coach Kevin Kinnard in the series.

Graeter is expected to be followed by Jonathan Anderson on the mound for the Hornets. Those two seniors pace Poplarville at the plate, with each hitting around the .400 mark along with Josh Reed.