Starkville's Nathan Pugh (12) celebrates a home run with teammates earlier this season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
It can be found all over the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A baseball series.
Between the Starkville Yellowjackets and the New Hope Trojans, they own several state championships.
One of those titles for New Hope came in 1996 when it set a national record with a 43-0 mark.
The Trojans and Jackets are in a position to make another run at a championship and Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said his squad knows the New Hope hurdle will be a tough one to clear.
"They understand the challenge ahead with New Hope winning 20 games this year and they won their division," Carlisle said. "They have an outstanding program and have signs up with state championships and national records so they know about that, but this bunch hasn't backed down from a challenge all year so hopefully we'll be a good shape."
The series begins tonight in Lowndes County at 7 p.m. with the second game at Starkville set for Saturday at 3 p.m. If a third game is necessary, it's back at New Hope Monday at 7 p.m.
Carlisle has led the Jackets to three state titles in 1986, 1987, 1991, and will retire effective at the completion of this season after 29 years as head coach.
Lee Boyd, the coach of the Trojans, said there should be extra incentive for SHS to play well for Carlisle.
"We know their kids are going to give a great effort for him," Boyd said. "I've seen Starkville play. They've got a good record and won their division so we know they are going to be a good and talented team for us to play."
Boyd said the Jackets have a strong senior class with a good one-two pitching punch of Nick Brooks, a signee with East Mississippi Community College, and Nathan Pugh, a signee with Pearl River Community College.
Starkville has a record of 21-7, while New Hope stands at 22-7.
Boyd indicated that a good senior class has also been a key to the success at New Hope.
"We couldn't ask for a better senior class than we have right now," Boyd said. "They've put forth a lot of effort and have been good leaders for our program and for our team. We've had a good year and had a good district showing. We went 7-2 in a very difficult division with Oxford, which is still in it on the other side, Saltillo, which lost out last Friday, and West Point has a good team with coach (Buddy) Wyers.
"We've been swinging the bats good the last couple of games and we hope that carries over (to this series)."
Pitching is a family affair for the Trojans as the No. 1 starter Landon Boyd is the younger brother of the head coach and No. 2 starter Peyton Lee is the first cousin of the head coach.
"Peyton is one of those kids that we didn't know how we were going to use him, but he came out in early workouts and did a great job," Lee Boyd said. "We got him some starts early and he's pitched really good all season long for us.
"Landon was in our rotation last year, had a good year and went 7-2 as a sophomore. He's 6-3 this year and was a key starter in the division. He's been our No. 1 starter in the playoffs, pitched pretty good game against (Lake) Cormorant and threw well against Saltillo so we hope that continues."
In another twist, Taylor Stanford, who plays the outfield and pitches in relief for the Trojans used to live in Starkville.
"It should be an exciting series," Carlisle said. "(New Hope is) solid one through nine and the catcher seems to do an outstanding job. We've seen them play two or three times and they seem to be doing what it takes. They are playing extremely well and we hope to be up for the challenge."
View more articles in: