Notebook: Loss to Franklin was tough, but its playoff time in Class A

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Go ahead and scratch those first two innings from Saturday&8217;s game.

The last five innings for the Huntington Hounds were more bearable to watch, out-scoring Franklin Academy 2-1 despite missing chances to push more runs across the plate.

At least the Hounds can take solace in the fact that they&8217;re in the playoffs following Saturday&8217;s 8-2 loss to the Cougars in the District 7-A tie-breaker. The difference is they&8217;ll open this week at Glenbrook to start the best-of-three series, while Franklin Academy will start at home in its series against Riverdale.

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&8220;It was great to be in this position, but we felt like getting to the playoffs would be great for our kids,&8221; Huntington head coach Mitch Ashmore said. &8220;We&8217;ll go play Glenbrook, try to win that series and go from there. But we got beat by a better team (Saturday). I think they probably wanted it a little more than we did. Those kids over there play hard and do the right things.&8221;

The Cougars took off early against the Hounds&8217; Trey Brasher to break the game open, but Ashmore pulled him after four in favor of No. 2 starter Huston Eliser.

The Cougars, who at 24-2 have lost to only Huntington and Jackson Academy this year, is plenty similar to Huntington in its style of play. Both teams rely on pitching and defense to get it done along timely hits &8212; just the formula the Hounds used to get to the state championship series last season against Tunica.

Brasher got out after throwing only 56 pitches Saturday. He&8217;ll likely get the start in the opener against Glenbrook Tuesday.

&8220;If you give Mitch&8217;s team an inch, they&8217;ll take it all,&8221; Franklin head coach Ryan Ellington said. &8220;There&8217;s a chance we&8217;ll see them down the road. I&8217;ve got a young team. I don&8217;t have any seniors out. They work hard.&8221;

The first round schedule will have games Tuesday and Thursday with if-necessary games Friday back at the site of Game 1. If Huntington and Franklin meet again, it&8217;d be in the South State championship.

Then there&8217;s WCCA, who isn&8217;t totally sure of who they&8217;ll face in the first round. But they know they&8217;ll be at home Tuesday and play the winner of the Huntington-Glenbrook series if they win the opening round.

Rams head coach Ray Olive said his club is expected to play Sylva-Bay. They&8217;ll hope to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

&8220;If it&8217;s Sylva-Bay, I heard they&8217;ve got two top-quality pitchers,&8221; Olive said. &8220;If we play like we&8217;re capable of playing for seven innings, we can play with anybody. We play well, have one bad inning that always snowballs and that&8217;s the thing that drives me crazy. It&8217;s a mental thing. We&8217;ve got to figure how to put that aside and start fresh.&8221;

Everyone in Class A will start fresh this week with the playoffs. Adams Christian won&8217;t get started until next week in Class AA (four less teams in the playoffs), but the Hounds will get a chance to start new this week with the Apaches.

It&8217;s the same Glenbrook teamo the Hounds beat for South State last spring.

&8220;I think it&8217;ll be easy (to recover),&8221; infielder Trey Corbett said of Saturday&8217;s loss. &8220;I don&8217;t think the seeding matters that much because you&8217;ve got to play good teams anyway.&8221;

As for Franklin Academy, the young nucleus of that team &8212; five juniors, four sophomores &8212; hope this season turns into something special.

And next year gets even better.

&8220;We reached a goal (Saturday),&8221; pitcher Devin Evans said. &8220;This was our first goal &8212; to win district. The next goal is to go all the way. Hopefully we can do it. We&8217;ve just got to want it.&8221;

WAVE TOURNEY SET &8212; The field is set for Cathedral&8217;s first-round playoff tournament at Chester Willis Field this weekend. The field will include Ethel and Noxapater out of Region 5 and Enterprise.

It&8217;s a double-elimination set up similar to a NCAA Regional. And just like that format, you&8217;ve got to have pitching if you want to make it through this tournament.

That&8217;s a question the Green Wave hopes to answer. CHS head coach Craig Beesley said he&8217;ll likely go with Charlie Lane Thursday when the Wave faces Noxapater at 7 p.m. and come back with No. 1 starter Patrick McDonough on Friday.

Left-hander Alex Middleton could get a start in there as well.

&8220;We&8217;ve relied on Patrick a lot this year, but I feel confident in Charlie, Alex and the others,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;We&8217;ve got the arms there. If we can get them to throw strikes &8212; that&8217;s my main concern. Charlie is our most consistent throwing strikes after Patrick. That&8217;s what I&8217;m going to be looking for in the first game of the tournament.&8221;

Lane has thrown only 12 innings this season and hasn&8217;t thrown much lately, but he&8217;s walked a team-low eight batters. Outside of McDonough&8217;s 41 2/3 innings pitched, Middleton is second with 20 1/3 but has started only once when he got the call against Rayville at the Vidalia Invitational.

WELCOME BACK &8212; Ja-Mes Logan has found his way back to Natchez High and into the Bulldogs&8217; lineup after spending most of the school term living in Houston. The speedy younger brother of Nook Logan had a double in the second game of Saturday&8217;s doubleheader against St. Al.

Head coach Charlie Williams played Logan at center and third base last year as an eighth-grader. Now he&8217;s in left and in the leadoff spot in the lineup.

&8220;He&8217;s pretty much already in shape, but he&8217;s young,&8221; Williams said. &8220;He&8217;s playful, and that gets on my nerves. But he came back and is a good addition. He&8217;s been hitting real well since he&8217;s been back. That&8217;s the good thing (he&8217;s hitting leadoff). I&8217;ve been able to move my people around in the lineup, and that&8217;s why I think we&8217;re hitting a little better.&8221;