Franklin County set to take on West Marion in South State semis

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

More than two decades.

That’s how long it’s been since the Franklin County High School baseball team played for a South State championship.

The Bulldogs have a chance to change that later this week.

Email newsletter signup

Franklin County is set to take on West Marion beginning Thursday in the MHSAA Class 3A South State semifinals.

Game 1 start time is set for 6 p.m. at Franklin County.
The Bulldogs (20-6), who claimed the Region 7-3A title during the regular season, are in the South State semis for the first time since 2008 after series sweeps over Forest and St. Patrick.
“These guys have to come together,” first-year Franklin County coach Joshua Thibodeaux said. “Anytime you have a group of guys that bond, you have a chance to be pretty special. That’s why we’re sitting where we’re sitting.”

West Marion enters the series after having topped Morton and Choctaw County. In its five postseason games, the Trojans (16-11) have allowed just 16 runs.

“Anytime you get into the third round, you’re getting quality teams,” Thibodeaux said. “They’ve found a way to get themselves in the third round as well, so that speaks volumes for the team they have.”

Franklin County, meanwhile, has pounded its way to this point, scoring 42 combined runs in its four postseason games.

“The sticks have been hot lately, and we’ve been putting all three phases of the game together,” senior outfielder De’Martre Collins said. “Everything has been working out well. We’re ready to face anyone. Everyone has been doing their job.”

Collins is one of four seniors on the Bulldog roster, alongside Jacob Jordan, Chase Freeman and Thomas Slagle. Thibodeaux said the quartet has played an instrumental role in helping the Bulldogs reach the third round of the playoffs.

“They are pretty much everything,” he said. “I told them at the start of the year, it’s what they want (to achieve). However far they want to go, it’s going to be on those four to make it happen. They’ve done a great job so far.”

Collins said a great deal of the Bulldogs’ enthusiasm stems from their head coach.

“He’s out here putting the work in for us,” Collins said. “He’s got a family at home, he can be with them, but he’s here with us.”

Thibodeaux said this season has not only been special for his players, but also the local community.

“It’s neat to see every round that we go through we keep getting more and more people to come out,” he said. “We try to reach out to people, whether it’s to come work in the concession stand or just come out and watch the baseball game, and you’re starting to get some of those crowds coming in, so it’s been a neat experience.”

Game 2 of the series will be at 6 p.m. in Foxworth, with Game 3, if necessary, back at Franklin County at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re excited to be here, but we know these are big games that we have to show up for,” Thibodeaux said. “West Marion has always had a quality baseball program, so it’s good to be able to see teams like that.”