Natchez High putting in offseason work, wins two over South Pike

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2017

For Natchez High School’s Dan Smith and his baseball team, summer isn’t a time for vacation.

The Bulldogs have been anything but idle since the end of the season, fitting in a practice and scrimmage game whenever possible.

Natchez hosted South Pike for a doubleheader Monday night, defeating the Eagles in both games, 12-2.

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“They have been getting a lot of work in and a lot of good quality work,” Smith said. “In any sport during the summer we try to get better, especially with baseball.”

Smith said between Natchez and Vidalia’s Dixie Youth League, the Bulldogs will end the summer playing between 30 to 40 games. He said most players are also lifting weights in the mornings with the Natchez football team.

Natchez needs all the training it can get, Smith said, since it has a mass of underclassmen.

“This is a major key because we are playing with babies pretty much,” Smith said. “We can get in more one-on-one teaching.”

During any game last season, Smith said NHS started a maximum of six players in eighth grade or younger.

“I had 13-year-olds playing against 16 to 18-year-olds,” he said. “It can be a headache at times, but a coach is supposed to look to the future. It will get better.”

Though the Bulldogs have a number of returning players, one open spot is left on the mound after losing starter Jordan Hamilton to graduation.

With the help of Tra Davis, Jatavis Melton and Jakel Barnes, Smith said he plans to use Paul Hargrave to do most of the pitching.

“My plan is to rely on Paul, and he will pitch pretty much every game we play in the summer,” Smith said.

The rising junior said he is ready to be a leader.

“Jordan taught me how to throw a curve ball, I just have to use it,” Hargrave said. “The young ones are looking at me now. We have to show them how to do stuff and that we have to keep working. They are competing hard to take our spots.”

Smith said if anything, he wants his players to perfect their position during the off time.

“How we are working them this summer is pretty much how we plan to have the rotation during the school year,” he said. “The more reps they get in their position, the better they will be come February.”