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Poplarville baseball starts season with a win

After close to a year of being off the field, the Poplarville Hornets baseball team finally took part in a competitive game Thursday evening and showed out with a 10-0 win over Lamar Christian.

Jon Jon Babiowski went 1-3 with 3 RBIs, Mason Anderson went 1-2 with 2 RBIs and Joseph Blackeney went 2-2 with an RBI as the Hornets displayed their offensive arsenal.

Meanwhile, Jordan Belsome allowed 0 hits, had 6 strikeouts and only gave up one walk while throwing 58 pitches over 5 innings for Poplarville to keep the Lions off the scoreboard.

Head Coach Slade Jones said the team’s intense practices and the pressure put on the athletes to perform every day is paying off, and the positive results help the players understand the reasoning behind the heated practices.

“I thought we executed well in doing the things we set out to do early in the year.”

“A lot of it has to do with, all through this whole time with COVID-19, we’ve asked the kids to come to practice every day with full focus and intensity, which sounds really easy, but it’s not as easy as it sounds when you don’t get to play.”

“I think that’s kind of showing a little bit,” Jones said.

The work put in before the start of the season also did away with any nerves the athletes might’ve dealt with during the first game of the season.

Ever since the athletes were allowed to start practicing as a group again following the COVID-19 shutdown last spring, Poplarville made it a point to get the players’ minds and bodies back on track after the layoff.

It wasn’t an easy process, but the hours spent working on mechanics outside and increasing strength in the weight room has the Hornets right where they need to be.

“I can remember, it seemed like a challenge to get everybody physically and mentally back on a normal schedule and we did our best to do that and now I think we’re right on time,” Jones said.

Babiowski and Belsome are two of the team’s veterans the Hornets will lean on this year.

Both had been making strides last year before the COVID-19 lockdown, so Jones is excited to see the athletes tap into their potential and continue improving as the season wears on.

“Both of them, Jordan and Jon Jon, are going to continue to get better. This live game stuff, they’ve kind of missed that.  I think given where they’re at now, by the end of the season they’ll be even better,” Jones said.

The team’s next game will be a home matchup against Pine La. Monday Feb. 23.

Jones wants to see his athletes improve on some of the mistakes made during the team’s first game.

These non-district matchups serve as a good time for teams to work out any issues before district play begins, so Poplarville is looking to take advantage of these early season games to continue shoring up areas that need it.

“There are some things we have to build on. If you’re watching the game it might be hard to see, but we know we missed some things. We will absolutely have to do those things late in the year to win baseball games. There’s a lot of room to get better,” Jones said.