Melton, Natchez cruise to victory over Jefferson County, 11-1

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2017

With region play on the horizon, Natchez High School baseball coach Dan Smith is doing everything he can to best prepare his squad for what lies ahead.

On Saturday morning, in its last tune up before facing Provine at home Tuesday, Smith called on Jatavis Melton to provide a spark. The junior standout did not disappoint.

Melton tossed four strong innings, striking out the side in the fourth and registering two more punchouts in each of the second and third innings as Natchez topped Jefferson County 11-1 in four innings.

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“This is (Melton’s) first time pitching this year,” Smith said. “I’ve been trying to save him and rest him. He threw a lot of strikes and filled the zone.”

Jefferson County struggled throughout and was plagued by a litany of errors.

“Today’s game showed our youth,” JCHS coach Stacy Murphy said. “We have a lot of guys its their first time playing. A lot of them haven’t played a lot of little league ball. When you’re using your raw talent to come out and play a real game, it’s going to be a little difficult.”

However, the Bulldogs received a strong pitching performance from junior hurler Joshua Day.

The lanky right-hander was just effective at the plate, smashing a run-scoring triple to deep centerfield in the second inning.

“He takes charge,” Murphy said. “The stuff he’s doing, we need him to do it, and I’m glad he’s doing it. He can pitch; he can play the entire infield. He’s a go-to guy.”

Charlie Latham drove in three runs for the Bulldogs, while Paul Hargrave, Travon Henry and Jamel Myles all chipped in with an RBI. Melton had two hits and three stolen bases.

Saturday’s win comes on the heels of a strong showing this past week for the Bulldogs at the Jackson Public School Tournament. Natchez went 1-1 in the competitive field, and Smith is hopeful his team can carry over the momentum it’s established this week into Tuesday night.

“They trying to come together,” Smith said. “We just need to keep getting better and learning the game more. They’ve been doing a great job. We’ve been throwing a lot at them, but they’ve been constantly getting better.”

Smith and the Bulldogs are hopeful to receive some good news in the coming days. Junior Shavoké Herrington has missed the entire year with a leg injury, but could return shortly to provide more experience to the Natchez lineup.

“I’m hoping he’ll be back next week,” Smith said. “He goes to the doctor Monday, and if he gets back, that will be a big lift.”