Potential there for NHS next year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 23, 2000

Natchez High’s baseball team had to struggle to make the playoffs this season.

The Bulldogs did it the hard way, losing to Jim Hill early and then getting swept by Forest Hill to set up a must-win situation against Jim Hill in Jackson.

Natchez prevailed, but many folks were probably wondering at what expense after drawing the Division 8-5A champion in the first round of the playoffs.

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Not too many people would have been surprised to see a pair of 10-run sweeps to end Natchez’s season.

But the Bulldogs found some pride and battled Gulfport to the end.

Natchez went up against Gulfport ace Joey Coleman last Thursday and lost 9-5. This is the same guy who sports a 9-1 record and outdueled a good Hattiesburg team – both teams they played to give the Admirals the division title.

Bulldog coach Michael Lindsey was confident coming back home.

Anyone watching Saturday’s game would probably agree with that, but when you leave 14 runners on base and commit four errors in a playoff game, it usually doesn’t matter how much better your pitching is.

Natchez lost 11-7 for the record. When the Bulldogs went behind 8-2 and 10-4, most fans figured it was over.

But to the Bulldogs’ credit, they battled back and made a game out of it, even forcing Gulfport to bring in a new pitcher in the final inning.

The good news for Natchez fans is that only one senior started for the Bulldogs this year.

A very talented junior class returns next year in Brian Kossum, Calvin Jackson, Nolan Coward, Carl Hayes,&160;Brock Barlow and Chris Logan.

Sophomores Lance Harveston and Marques Kinds provided a spark, while freshman Leon Stewart will have college coaches drooling in the future. A talented eighth-grade group coming up shows even more promise for the future.

While Natchez High baseball coach Michael Lindsey knows there is talent coming back, he knows it will take more than players just stepping out there as a senior and being competitive.

&uot;We have eight starters coming back, but that one year doesn’t make a lot of difference unless everybody is willing to work,&uot; Lindsey said. &uot;We need a lot of work on our offense and we need more pitching. The potential is there, but the guys have to be dedicated.&uot;

Natchez finished its season at 8-18. The Bulldogs looked awfully good at time and plain awful at other times.

Lindsey did a great job getting the most out of a team that seemed to have trouble finding its identity this year. Next year there should be no doubt as to who the leaders will be – and that just doesn’t mean telling everyone what to do.

That means stepping it up when the time comes, wanting to be in position to win or lose and game, and most important, wanting to bring the pride back to Natchez as far as public school baseball is concerned.

Lindsey and Bill Dillon do a good job coaching Natchez High baseball.

But there’s a limit to what they can do when it comes to team unity, team pride and team chemistry.

The potential is there for Natchez High’s baseball team to make some noise next year. Throw in the same type of don’t-quit attitude the Bulldogs showed Saturday and the near-future can be bright.

The juniors on this year’s team have one more year to make a run for a state championship.

It hurt Saturday to see a season come to an end. That hurt will be 10 times worst next year for six seniors.

And in approximately one month, that’s just what those juniors will be. It’s never too early to start showing leadership. And it’s never too early to start working on improving.

Inexperience will not be an excuse next year. And with a lot of off-season hard work, there won’t be much need for excuses.

&160;Joey Martin is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com