Seniors to leave noticeable hole on SHS baseball roster

Carter Bentley
Staff Writer

As another season came to the close in the playoffs on Saturday afternoon for Starkville, so did the high school careers of seven players that undoubtedly left their mark at Carlisle Field.

The senior class certainly left their mark on head coach Travis Garner, who saw them through junior high all the way to Saturday’s final game, ending the year at 15-13. Carter Bentley, Dee Petty, Austin Campbell, Carter Hunt, Johnathan Evans, Wesley Graves and Dee Clark are all on the way out and Garner wished them well shortly after the final at bat in a 4-1 loss to Tupelo.

“I think that’s my first bunch to come through,” Garner said. “That’s a great group of kids who have played hard and gotten better. They all contributed this year in some form or fashion and you wish it would have been a little bit different. They’ve got a lot to hang their hats on.”

The big holes left in the lineup are Bentley at the leadoff and Petty right behind him. Hunt has added a pop to the lineup as well and Campbell has been the SHS ace on the mound for the last two seasons.

Garner knows that it’s going to be difficult to replace all of his seniors, especially those four who have been around the block for several years.

“Right now I’m trying to figure out how to write a batting order without Petty and Bentley in it,” Garner said. “We hit five or six guys in the order that are underclassmen. We need them to grow up and we have a summer and a fall to get ready to do it.”

The next men up have a lot of experience in their own right. Jack Perry, Griffin Little and Caleb Stewart had to be thrown into the fire early on in their careers and will be relied on heavily next season.

Perry especially seems up to the task. He was starting for the Jackets as a ninth grader last season and was a big part of things at the plate, on the mound and in the field. His role increased even more this season as a sophomore and he’ll step in to the ace role in the rotation as a junior.

After getting another year under his belt and competing against some of the best teams in the state, Perry believes he and his fellow teammates are up to the task to take the next step a year from now. He’s hoping that next step leads them to competing for Class 6A, Region 2 championships and state titles.

“We’re definitely going to miss the guys that are gone because we had a really talented senior class,” Perry said. “I think we have a lot of talent coming back with guys that have gotten a lot of experience. If we work hard and focus, I think we’ll be really good next year.”