Franklin County puts away Natchez with strong pitching in last tuneup before district play

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

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BUDE — The Natchez High School Bulldogs had one last game to get ready for what they could very well see in MHSAA Region 5-5A when they faced the Class 3A Franklin County High School Bulldogs last Monday night.

And what Natchez High saw from Franklin County sophomore pitcher Dalton Meadows were a whole lot of fastballs, which led to Meadows striking out 12 batters while holding the Bulldogs to just two base hits as the Bulldogs took an 11-1 win in five innings.

While Meadows had his way with the visiting Bulldogs’ lineup in his five innings on the mound, the same could not be said for Natchez High’s Jaleel Adams, who gave up just six hits but walked 13 batters. Adams allowed 11 runs, nine of them earned, and struck out four batters.

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“The main reason (for the outcome) was we had 13 walks,” Natchez High head coach Dan Smith said. “They had six hits. We had two hits. If we cut down on the walks, it’s a completely different ball game, even with those strikeouts he (Meadows) had.”

Natchez High took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Meadows, but he settled down after that and pitched four consecutive scoreless innings.

Franklin County (6-1-1) scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and that was pretty much all the run support Meadows would need. However, the host Bulldogs would keep adding to their lead with four runs in the bottom of the second inning and two runs in the bottom of the third to take a 9-1 lead. They would end up run-ruling the visiting Bulldogs with two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

“Our pitcher (Adams) had problems throwing strikes, finding the zone. It’s hard to get over that,” Smith said. “I told the kids you can’t defend the walks. You can defend the hits.”

Meadows allowed one earned run and walked just three batters. The defense behind him committed just one error.

“He was throwing the ball pretty well. He was throwing the ball in the mid-80s. He hit his spots pretty well with his fastball. He didn’t throw his off-speed pitches that much,” Smith said. “I’m glad we saw that. That’s the kind of pitching we’re going to see in district.”

Meadows helped his own cause by going 2-for3 with a double, a triple, two runs batted in and three runs scored. Donovan Moore went 2-for-2 with a triple, walked twice, had one RBI and scored two runs. Terrance Fields was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Ridge Clanton was walked three times and scored two runs. Noah McCormick was 1-for-2, walked twice, had one RBI and scored two runs.

Jwun Mackey and Cameron Craft were the only Natchez High players to have a base hit.

Natchez High (4-4-1) played at Florence High School in its Region 5-5A opener on Thursday with the JV game at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7 p.m. Those games were originally scheduled to take place last Tuesday, but were rescheduled due to the severe weather that pushed through the Miss-Lou region that afternoon and evening.

The Bulldogs then play host to Florence on Friday with the JV game at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7 p.m.

“Basically, the three teams in our district are pretty good. Florence, we picked them up from 4A. They were in the second or third round in 4A the last few years,’ Smith said. “West Jones, they won it all the year before last. They got (to the finals) in back-to-back years. They’ve been one of the tops teams in Class 5A the past four years, at least in the South. Brookhaven, they’ve been a consistently good program.”