Four from area MPSA All-Stars

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

During that first practice back, it all made sense to Joseph Dunlap.

He missed his junior year of baseball, but returned to the Rebel Field diamond with his Adams Christian teammates, renewed with a giddy smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, signifying a greater commitment to the sport every red-blooded American child feasts on.

Dunlap helped his team to a Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA runner-up finish, earned All-District 2-AAA first team honors and is one of four Miss-Lou players, including two Rebel teammates, going to Clinton this weekend for MPSA’s All-Star games at Mississippi College.

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Fellow AC seniors Glenn Williams and Douglas Davis join Dunlap, along with Class A Trinity Episcopal veteran infielder Walt Ketchings.

The Class AAA game begins at Mississippi College at 2 p.m., with the A’s first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.

&uot;I hit a little bit better than I expected to,&uot; said Dunlap, who batted .367 from his catcher’s position. &uot;Defensively, Coach (Ron) Rushing helped me out a lot. But batting, I never thought I’d hit for average as high as I did.&uot;

The reacquisition of Dunlap filled a huge void. Cole Bradford, AC’s starting catcher in 2003, blew out his ACL during the football season, meaning his chance at baseball was shelved.

That meant Rebel head coach Gill Morris was preparing to restructure his infield, shifting junior second baseman Dustin Case behind the dish.

Morris had already tried out sophomore pitcher/first baseman Timmy Foster and junior shortstop Jamie Morris at second to replace Case before Dunlap came back.

&uot;Joseph missed it, he was hungry and to get selected is a nice way to finish out his high school career,&uot; Morris said. &uot;It’s a credit to him for being tight with the other seniors and ball players. Joseph was relaxed. His hard work helped him be confident back there. He was very important.&uot;

As were Williams and Davis, the Rebels other two every day starters &045; both of whom were also selected to 2-AAA’s first team &045; and Ketchings, the District 7-A Most Valuable Player.

The Saints’ senior outfielder batted .458, maintained an on-base percentage of .586 and a ridiculously high slugging percentage of .661.

Williams made the rounds for the Rebels, alternating between the centerfield, first base and pitcher.

The southpaw, who is headed to Copiah-Lincoln Community College next year, was 6-3 on the mound, while batting .350 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs.

&uot;It’s great to have just one person make it, but to have three of them?&uot; Williams said. &uot;It shows all three of us led us to the state championship series in unique ways. We showed our leadership this year.&uot;

The lanky Davis also boasted a 6-3 mark on the hill, while clubbing four homers and 17 RBIs as he hit .323 as a pitcher/first baseman/designated hitter.

Dunlap thanked both Morris and Rushing in helping him feel in control behind the plate, so much so that he never hesitated to walk out to the mound to calm his battery mate down, whether it was Williams, Davis or Foster.

&uot;I’d call a timeout and try to get them to start throwing strikes because the defense was going to play behind them,&uot; Dunlap said. &uot;We’d sit (in the dugout) and talk about what was working for them out there.&uot;

Williams credited the catcher with stepping up after missing a season and being a vital cog to the Rebels’ trip to the state finals.

&uot;(Dunlap) started hitting the ball well, and I noticed as the year went on nothing was getting by him when he was catching,&uot; he said.

Now the AC trio and Ketchings must travel to Clinton and lace their cleats up alongside players which they stood opposite of during this past season.