Natchez High gets no-hit by Petal, falls 14-1
By Jason Munz
The Hattiesburg American
PETAL — Petal starting pitcher Calder Mikell threw a no-hitter, striking out 11 in the process, in the Panthers’ five-inning 14-1 drubbing of Natchez in a first-round Class 6A playoff game Friday.
But you wouldn’t know it by talking to the junior right-hander afterward.
Mikell was disappointed in his performance, as he walked three, hit a batter and allowed the Bulldogs’ lone run to score thanks to a pair of passed balls and a wild pitch. Tavis Dixon was responsible for Natchez’s only tally.
“I didn’t pitch as well as I could have,” he said. “I threw horribly. No control. Everything was off. It was either high or way out or too low. But a win is a win, as ugly as it was.”
Petal (22-6) will travel to Natchez (6-13) for a 2 p.m. contest today for game two of the best-of-three series. The winner of the series advances to take on Harrison Central in the second round, which begins Thursday.
The Bulldogs were behind the eight-ball from the outset due to some unusual circumstances. The team’s eight seniors were out of town on a class trip, meaning Natchez only brought 10 players to Petal Friday. And the Bulldogs will have just those 10 again today, since the seniors will still be out of town.
Petal head coach Larry Watkins understands how his players might lose a little focus playing against a team in such dire straits.
“I think we were a little anxious early in the game, swinging at some bad pitches early in the count,” he said. “You don’t want to lose your focus and lose your approach and what you’ve worked on all year at the plate.”
The Panthers got started early and often, scoring three times in the first inning.
Leadoff man Kyle Smith singled, stole second and scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Trevor Williams followed with a single and scored on a Levi Brewer double — one of three hits and three RBIs for the senior in the game.
“You just try to go the other way with everything,” Brewer said. “And in a game like this, you just want to keep everybody in the dugout in it. But that’s hard to do sometimes when you’re scoring five or six runs an inning.”
Petal added four in the second, three in the third, and four more in the fourth.
The Panthers’ rout came without shortstop and middle-of-the-order mainstay Jacob Hiatt, who was scratched with a stiff back.
Watkins said he hopes to have Hiatt back for today’s game, but won’t force the issue if he’s not ready.
“We’ll have to see,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll be fine.”
Dalvion Jackson took the loss for Natchez.