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Poplarville baseball ready to meet expectations

The Poplarville Hornets baseball team started its season with two losses against Florence that ended 7-0 and 11-1 on Feb. 18.

The Hornets then came back with a vengeance four days later and crushed Bay High thanks to an offensive explosion, which saw Poplarville win 13-0.

The athletes were not able to spend much time on the field in the days leading up to the season opening series due to weather.

Head Coach Slade Jones partially attributed the poor performances against Florence to his players being rusty, but the performances served as an inspiration to improve heading into the Bay game.

“They couldn’t get back out there quick enough because they knew they didn’t perform up to what they were capable of. We came out Saturday and it was a little cleaner and sharper,” Jones said.

Some first game nerves also could’ve played a part in the team’s opening competitive matchups.

Jones said there were some errors made defensively and at the plate, but with it being the start of the season there’s still plenty of time to resolve any issues.

“I’d say even for the guys who have played, (since) it was first game out of the year, there was definitely some anxiety. But it’s early in the year, we’re still making adjustments,” Jones said.

The adjustments paid off against Bay in a big way and the Hornets will be looking to build off that result when they take on the Laurel Golden Tornadoes Feb. 25 at 5 p.m.

Jones said defensively the team has been working on its “defensive priorities”, meaning what to do in certain situations, and how to effectively communicate with others around the diamond.

Offensively, Jones said he wants to see his team do a better job of being a hard out and not letting opposing pitchers get ahead in the count.

Poplarville will have to face a variety of talented pitchers throughout the season and the hitters need to be ready for those at-bats.

“Every time we had an opportunity at practice we really focused on those things. There are a lot of arms in this district of that caliber,” Jones said.

Laurel is currently 0-1 after handily losing to Lumberton 19-3, so the Golden Tornadoes will be trying to turn things around when the team faces the Hornets.

Poplarville has less than a month before district play begins and games like the one against Laurel will be good tests for the Hornets as they progress towards that stage of the season.

Jones said the team wants to do a better job on the mound against Laurel of locating fastballs and making sure the base runners are monitored.

Offensively the team will look to replicate the performance against Bay.

“Going into this Laurel game and the Hancock game at the plate we need to be a little more focused. Not chasing pitches out of the zone, that’s one of the things typically we don’t do,” Jones said.