Upperclassmen lead way as Natchez High bests Forest Hill, 11-5
NATCHEZ — There couldn’t have been a more fitting end to the regular season on senior night for Natchez High School.
There were plenty of contributions in the Bulldogs’ 11-5 win against regional foe Forest Hill High School, but NHS head coach Brian Kossum said he was especially pleased with the play of his seniors.
Whether it was Derrian Johnson stretching out a double on a routine single, Davion Ward hitting a sacrifice fly, Denzel Washington laying down a sacrifice bunt without being asked or starting pitcher JaDarrius Williams dominating on the mound, Kossum said the seniors set a great example to the rest of their team.
“Our game is small ball,” Kossum said. “We have good speed, but we don’t run bases well. We work on it, and we teach them to take that extra base, and (Johnson) took it — that’s leading.
“Davion had a sacrifice fly and was happy to do it. I didn’t even give Denzel (the sacrifice signal), he just felt like he needed to do it, and he got it done.”
And Kossum was especially proud of Williams, who went seven innings for the Bulldogs and limited Forest Hill to just three earned runs on six hits. He also had two walks and eight strikeouts.
“He wasn’t a pitcher the first half of the year,” Kossum said. “He’s a guy who came to me and said, ‘I can get it done,’ and he’s gotten it done.”
Williams said he felt like his team needed help on the mound, which is why he approached Kossum midway through the season.
“We were lacking pitchers, and I just felt like I could step up for my team and come through at a certain time,” Williams said.
NHS took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Lee Jackson came home on a sacrifice fly by Travez Lyles. But Forest Hill jumped ahead 4-1 in the top of the third inning after James Sheriff drove in three on a bases-clearing triple and a single by Montrell Samuel sent home Sheriff.
NHS tied the game 4-4 when Williams and Johnson scored on an error and Davion Ward came in on a fielder’s choice. Forest Hill scored its fifth run in the top of the fourth when Tomacio Hopkins drove in Jaylin Hibbler on an RBI single.
It was a rough two innings for Williams, but he said Kossum’s encouragement helped him maintain his composure.
“I just had to listen to Coach and stay strong,” Williams said. “(He said to) fight through it, because I’m a senior.”
Williams wouldn’t give up a run the rest of the way, and Kossum said Williams did well to not let Forest Hill’s big innings affect him. Outside of two batters in the third, Williams didn’t usher a single walk.
“He did really well at getting ahead of batters,” Kossum said. “He was able to get that first or second out pretty quickly without letting guys get on base, and he came in and did exactly what we need from our pitchers.”
The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth when Shovake Herrington singled in Jarrell Morris and Johnson tripled in Morris and Williams. Johnson would score on Ward’s sacrifice fly to make it 8-5 NHS.
In the bottom of the fifth, NHS added two more runs when Lyles came home on a sacrifice fly and Darrick Lewis scored on an error. The Bulldogs scored their final run in the bottom of the sixth when Johnson came around on an error.
NHS (6-12) will play Petal High School in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs. A date for Game 1 of a three-game set has yet to be determined.