Picayune baseball gears up for the season with goal to win a state championship

Published 4:41 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

The Picayune Maroon Tide baseball team began practice sessions this week, and the athletes are amped to start winning games.

Entering his third year over the program, Head Coach Evan Nichelson wants his team to hit the ground running in the preseason. He expects his team to be better than the year’s past, for them to compete like they should and be in the mix of winning teams in the district and have a long run through the playoffs.

“We had a rough one last year, we went 5-19… we took some bumps, but that’s in the past,” said Nichelson.

The Maroon Tide preseason started Thursday, and through the month of January the team will focus on fundamentals, arm strength and practicing at bat.

“Harping on fundamentals, base running fielding and obviously BP (batting practice) everyday,” said Nichelson.

This year, the Maroon Tide has three seniors and several players who were freshmen last year, but are now sophomores. With a lot of experience coming back this season and those players remembering the outcome from last season, they what to flip the script this season.

Nichelson will be relying a lot on his three seniors for the upcoming season. Senior catcher Sam Landrum was behind the plate every inning last year and will do the same this season. Senior pitcher and shortstop Dawson Underwood has seen a lot time on the diamond since he was a sophomore. Underwood led the team last year in hits with 25 and 17 runs. Then there’s senior Trenton Watts at third base.

“He hasn’t had as much playing time but he’s going to play a big role this year for us,” said Nichelson.

The expectations are high for the seniors and they want to live up to them. And their goals align with one another.

“Better than last year,” Watts said about his expectations this season.

“We’re trying to do better than we did last year… we’re trying to get like what coach Evens says, ‘from worst to first,’” said Underwood.

“We want to flip the script, we went 5-19 last year, you can’t do much worse than that, so we’re just trying to compete and win some ball games,” said Landrum.

Watts and Landrum have been waiting since August to get on the diamond and the anticipation to now has been “crazy” said Landrum, so they’re excited to get to work.

“I was holding up the gold ball a few months ago, now I’m trying to hold up the gold glove, you know what I’m saying?” Underwood said

While the three seniors laughed at that statement, they want to bring a state championship home to the Maroon Tide baseball program.

Nichelson is also looking for heavy contribution from some of his sophomores, Tanner Busby and Kyler King.

“There are a number of guys who got a lot of PT (playing time) last year that I think it’s going to help us a lot more this year with the experience they’ve gained,” said Nichelson.

This fall has been good for Maroon Tide. Nichelson says the team worked hard and he thinks the team is more ready to go this year then they’ve ever been.

“Just because of the work we’ve done this fall, our arms are ready, they’re in shape and we’re ready to hit the ground running.”

Feb. 12 is their first jamboree for the Maroon Tide and the first season game is set for Feb. 15.

Nichelson expects to play about 10 practice scrimmages before the team hits the jamboree. He is a big believer in “to get better you got to play,” so Nichelson plans to put the team through as many game-like situations as possible.