Hornets begin playoffs tonight

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

POPLARVILLE — Poplarville opens the Class 4A South State baseball playoffs tonight.

The Hornets travel to Magee to open the best-of-three series at 6 p.m. Game two is set for Friday night in Poplarville at the same time, while a third and final game if needed will take place Saturday at 3 p.m., also in Poplarville.

Poplarville, the number two seed from Region 8-4A, was scheduled to host game one against the Trojans, which finished third in Region 6-4A. But scheduling conflicts with Magee City Park forced the change in the format.

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Poplarville is 14-8 overall, after an 8-0 win over Picayune Tuesday night, and has won seven games in a row. The Hornets finished 7-3 in league play. Magee stands 15-7 overall, and wrapped up league play at 9-6.

The Trojans had to beat arch-rival Mendenhall two out of three games last week to seal the third and final playoff berth in 6-4A. Magee won game won 8-3 before falling 5-1 in game two. The Trojans won the deciding game 10-1.

“We don’t know much about them,” interim Poplarville head coach Lance Hendrix said. “I know that they have a couple of pretty good power hitters and that they run the bases really well. They are very athletic.”

The Hornets prepared for the postseason by knocking off county rival Picayune 8-0 Tuesday night. Poplarville jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first frame and then secured the win with a six run fourth inning.

Brandon Spiers, Luke Goodwen and Blake Ladner each had a pair of hits in the win, while Chandler Ray and Jake Smith each drove in a pair of runs for the Hornets. Hayden Freeman had a triple and Goodwen added a double to the winning 11 hit attack.

Ray, Spiers and Chance Seal all pitched for Poplarville, whle Hayden Falls took the loss for Picayune. “We wanted to go into the playoffs with some momentum, so it was a good win for us,” Hendrix added. “I feel like the kids are confident and ready to go.”

The Hornets will rely heavily on the one-two pitching punch of Ladner and Freeman entering the postseason, as well as the solid hitting of Goodwen, Ray and Spiers. Ladner and Freeman both have earned run averages of around 2.00, while Goodwen is hitting almost .500 and both Spiers and Ray are both over .375.

The winner of the Poplarville-Magee series faces powerful Columbia in the second round beginning a week from today.