Meet the boys of summer weather

Published 12:57 am Monday, April 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — Two things deserve the credit in Charlie Williams mind for the improvement of his Natchez High baseball team — better hitting and warmer weather.

The Bulldogs struggled at the start of the season and looked like they were going nowhere.

But as the weather warmed up, so did the Natchez bats — enough for them to finish in the No. 2 position in Region 6-5A.

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The Bulldogs will face Hattiesburg, the No. 3 team from Region 5, in the first game of the playoffs on Thursday.

The Bulldogs are playing in what amounts to a three-team, double-elimination regional in the first round. Ocean Springs is also involved in the regional.

“The hitting was our downfall earlier in the season,” Williams said. “But we’ve picked it up now.

“We seem like we played better once the weather got warmer,” Williams said. “The cold weather didn’t suit us well at all. We didn’t function very well in the cold. But when it got warmer, it seemed the players started playing much better and swinging the bats better.”

While the hitting has been inconsistent this year, the pitching has been the strength of the team.

“This season has gone by a little better than I expected,” Williams said.

“We had five freshmen starters. But I was very pleased with the pitching we’ve had this year. It’s been outstanding. We’ve pitched well enough to win three or four more games than we did.”

Williams said he and his team is excited about facing off against Hattiesburg in the first game of the playoffs, and knows the Bulldogs will have to continue to swing the bats well if they want to advance.

“We have to hit the ball very well,” Williams said. “That’s the only way we’re going to come out of it. We’ve also got to continue to pitch well and throw strikes. If we can do those two things, we’ll be in good shape.”

Should Natchez High defeat Hattiesburg on Thursday, they would play Ocean Springs in a winner’s bracket game the following day.

If they should lose, they would play the loser of the Hattiesburg and Ocean Springs game in what would be an elimination game.

Should they win that game, they would have to beat the undefeated team in the regional twice in order to advance to the next round.

It seems like a lot of work, but Williams isn’t worried about it.

“We’re all looking forward to the opportunity and challenge,” Williams said.

“It should be a good series.”