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Poplarville baseball looking to keep momentum going

The Poplarville Hornets baseball team added a second game to the win column after defeating the Laurel Golden Tornadoes 14-0 on Feb. 25.

The offensive explosion came on the back of another double digit run game for the Hornets when they beat Bay High 13-0 three days earlier.

Poplarville has now stringed together back-to-back wins in order to move to 2-2 this season.

Head Coach Slade Jones said the players were getting back into the swing of things the first few games, but now progress is being made.

“They came out and were much cleaner, much more sharp in what they were trying to do. They’re getting better and shaking the rust off for sure,” Jones said.

The Hornets know there are several talented pitchers in the district.

These high scoring games are good for building confidence, but it’ll be a tougher task when district play rolls around.

To prepare for that, Jones is making sure his players understand the value of each at bat.

Jones doesn’t want his players chasing pitches out of the strike zone, or being an easy out because he knows runs will come at a premium later in the season.

“We have to find ways to manufacture runs, play defense and pitch great. We don’t want to have to string hits together against the arms in our district. We can’t do things like chase (pitches),” Jones said.

The team’s improvement over the past two games can be attributed to a double header against Florence where Poplarville did not play well.

Jones said the two losses to Florence served as an early season wake up call for his players.

The athletes realized what it’s going to take to be successful and have been able to turn things around recently.

The improved performances are reminiscent of Poplarville’s successful season last year, which has led to heightened expectations.

Teams know how talented the Hornets are, so they’re going to give 110 percent when facing Poplarville.

“It goes back to performing with expectations. Now you can’t just show up and win, you’re going to get everybody’s best punch,” Jones said.

Practice time is valuable and can be hard to come by in the fast paced, game heavy season of baseball.

Poplarville will have a couple days to clean things up before taking on the Hancock Hawks Feb. 29 at 2 p.m.

Jones said the main focus has been simulating live pitching in practice.

The only way to prepare for talented pitchers is to see good pitching on a daily basis.

Obviously each athlete will have his own wrinkle when on the mound, but preparing for certain pitches at specific velocities can help a team come game time.

“We’ve been trying to simulate above average pitching for them. We’re just doing the things we do, but getting better at those things,” Jones said.

The game against Hancock will be a good test for the Hornets and will be the last away game before a three game home stand.

Jones said his expectations for the team never change, no matter the opponent.

The athletes need to compete and not worry about anything other than themselves.

“We do our best to not let the noise get to us and worry about who we’re playing. When the dust settles we can check the scoreboard and that’ll tell you where you are,” Jones said.