Starkville Academy edged by Oak Hill in baseball
Starkville Academy baseball coach Brooks Roberts hopes a tough one-run loss to the Oak Hill Raiders will be just the kind of wakeup call his team needs heading into the postseason.
Roberts did not see the type of approach at the plate that his Volunteers are going to need if they are to advance very far into the playoffs.
With only six hits scattered throughout the lineup, Starkville Academy dropped a 4-3 decision at home to Oak Hill.
Roberts said at times the Vols are still trying to find an offensive identity.
"We had guys trying to hit the ball 500 feet and popped the ball straight up," Roberts said. "You can't do that, especially against a good defensive team like Oak Hill and they swing it pretty good.
"You've just got to have a good approach at the plate every night and that's something we haven't been able to do all year is figure out what our approach is and stay with it. We consistently have guys trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark instead of trying to hit a double in the gap. Those things will get you beat."
After Oak Hill used one hit to score two runs in the first inning, Starkville Academy answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame. Howell Archer walked and scored on a single by Dillon Carrell.
Carrell was at it again in the third inning. Archer and Kyle Faver set the table to Carrell by reaching on walks, then Carrell had a two-run single to give the Vols a 3-2 lead.
The Raiders gained the advantage for good in fifth inning when Collins Brown hit a home run with two men on base. Oak Hill scored two of the runs to go up 4-3, but Brown's run was not allowed because the umpire had determined he did not step on home plate.
That turned out to be enough for the Raiders anyway as Jonah Caskey came in to relieve starter Dylan Scott and kept Starkville Academy scoreless in the final four innings.
Taylor Arnold and Archer combined for a three-hitter on the mound and kept the Vols in the game.
"I thought our pitchers gave us a chance," Roberts said. "They really didn't pitch great, but gave us a chance to win."
Along with Carrell's two singles and three RBI offensively for Starkville Academy, Carter Roach and Will Miller had one double each. Arnold and Codie Futral had one single each.
With a few days before playoffs begin, it's the hope of Roberts that the Vols can get sharpened up with their bats to be able to make a run.
"We've got some time to go back through fundamentals and should have a lot of good practice time coming up," Roberts said. "I may find a game next week to try to knock some of the rust off and stay hot."
Starkville Academy has an overall record of 9-8, but enjoyed success in Class AAA, District 2 and won the championship with a 7-2 mark.
Although losing a tough game to the rival Raiders was tough, Roberts could also see the bright side of the situation.
"It's not the end of the world," Roberts said. "You want to win every game you can, but we saw some good things along with bad things and things we need to work on."