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Picayune baseball ready to build on last season

The Picayune Maroon Tide baseball team is in its final stretch of the offseason with competition beginning Feb. 15.

The Maroon Tide will take part in a jamboree to get a taste of competitive action before the first regular season game against Pass Christian Feb. 21.

Picayune started after school practices Jan. 27 and the team has used that time to clean up a variety of things.

The team has 10 seniors on the squad, so there are plenty of players who understand what it takes to be successful after the team won the district last year.

Experience helps, but Head Coach Evan Nichelson said he wants his players to improve their focus.

On the field or in the batters box, Nichelson doesn’t want his players taking any pitches off.

“With our guys, we’ve harped on fundamentals. They know where to be in situations. Now I want them to just jump in and work on intensity,” Nichelson said.

Having a plethora of seniors helps not only in game situations, but also during practice.

The older players know what it takes to win and they make sure to hold the younger players accountable.

Nichelson said it’s a blessing to have so many guys willing to work hard for the betterment of the team.

“They’re hungry and they want to win after tasting success (last season). It hasn’t been hard, they strap it on and they make the young guys go with them,” Nichelson said.

Picayune was knocked out of the playoffs last year by West Jones.

Nichelson said the losses left a bitter taste for the athletes.

However, the offseason has been all about handling adversity and getting up after being knocked down.

Nichelson said that last year when the team got in tough situations they’d be unable to get out of it at times.

This year, with a number of experienced players, Nichelson is hoping his team can write a different story.

“That’s something we’ve emphasized. You’re going to face adversity, how are we going to respond? We’re maturing and I can see our guys figuring it out,” Nichelson said.

The team had an intra-squad scrimmage last weekend and there were some hiccups along the way the squad will try to correct before the start of the season.

Being focused throughout the game is something Nichelson still wants to see improved.

There are only a few more days before the season truly begins, so the team will need to move quickly.

“I’m a big believer of playing hard every pitch and having intense focus every pitch. I want 100 percent in the box and on the field every pitch,” Nichelson said.

Winning the district isn’t good enough for the Maroon Tide.

Instead, Nichelson said his team is looking to bring home a state championship.

Nichelson knows it’s a long road, but after last year’s successes the team is ready for more.

“We talk about every day, I tell them to dream about it. For this team that’s our goal,” Nichelson said.