Taking a hard hit: Natchez struggles on offense in opening postseason game

Published 12:34 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

Mustering no hits while facing an opposing team that racks up hits left and right would spell disaster for any squad.

For the Natchez High School baseball team, mishaps struck all over the place as it could not get a single hit in its 11-0, five-inning loss to a South Jones High School squad who recorded 12 hits on Friday in Game 1 of the three-game second-round MHSAA Class 5A playoff series.

“I think we had a lot of jitters,” said Natchez coach Dan Smith. “We had more errors than hits. We probably had the most errors in one game (Friday) than we had probably had an any other game all year.

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“We had four errors and zero hits. There is no way you are going to beat anybody like that.”

In the first two innings of the game, Natchez seemed like it was going to be in a pitching duel against South Jones. But when the Bulldogs were out of position defensively in the third, the Braves capitalized as they score five runs.

After South Jones built a comfortable lead in the third, it continued to create a hole Natchez just couldn’t get out of.

The Braves scored six more runs in the final two innings thanks to a two-run home run by Tyler Ducksworth, an error on a pop fly by the Bulldogs and multiple RBIs.

“We have to go out there with a better attitude and play defense,” said Natchez senior shortstop Jatavis Melton. “We were trying to over do it. We were nervous.

“It was playoff jitters.”

With the loss, Natchez heads to Ellisville today to take on South Jones at 2 p.m. in Game 2 of the series. If the Bulldogs win, Game 3 will be back at Chester Willis field on Monday. If they lose, their season is over.

However, Smith has complete confidence he will see blue and yellow faithful in Chester Willis’ stands on Monday. Yet, he is less sure the jitters will be gone.

“Hopefully (the nerves) will be gone by then,” Smith said. “The good thing about baseball we have to go (to South Jones) tomorrow. So I know we will be back here Monday.

“I got faith in my team that we will comeback.”

Melton has completely confidence in his teammates as well.

“I mean, we are really under no pressure,” Melton said. “We are going to go out there (today), play with a better mindset and play good. We are gonna get (the win) and play hard.”

While entering a win or go home game could motivate any player, Melton has extra incentive to extend the series as it could possibly be his last time playing in a Bulldog uniform.

And one thing is for sure, Melton isn’t ready to hang up his Natchez hat just yet.

“It motivates me a lot,” Melton said. “My season isn’t going to stop. I really want to go farther. I want to win a championship.

“The pitcher wasn’t throwing anything special, but it ain’t nothing I haven’t seen. If we can get some hits, we will be back here on Monday.”