Bulldogs Jaylin Davis, Martavis Woods turn foe in all-star game

Published 12:39 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story published July 12 contained an error stating where family had traveled from in support of Natchez High head coach Dan Smith at the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball game on Friday. Smith said his parents traveled from Lorman. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

JACKSON — After two weather delays and having to move from one location to another for more than one reason, the Magnolia Sports Association’s inaugural MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game finally took place last Friday afternoon.

When the second attempt for the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game on the campus of East Central Community College in Decatur came to a screeching halt on Friday, June 30 because of inclement weather, Natchez High head coach Dan Smith said last week that they weren’t able to get the first inning completed and that the game would have to be both rescheduled and moved to another location because ECCC head baseball coach Neal Holliman said the school would be hosting other tournaments.

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“We only played the top of the first inning (on June 30). So we decided to play the whole game over,” Smith said.

The game was eventually rescheduled for last Friday and the new location would be the Hank Aaron Sports Academy, formerly known as Smith-Wills Stadium, which is a 5,200-seat baseball park. From the mid-1970s to 1990, the stadium was the home of the Jackson Mets, one of the New York Mets’ minor league affiliates.

And Team A, which included Natchez High senior-to-be Jaylin Davis, defeated Team B, which had Bulldogs sophomore-to-be Martavis Woods, 11-3. Smith said that Davis played at second base for Team A while Woods played in centerfield for Team B.

At the plate, Davis went 1-for-2 with one stolen base and one run scored while Woods had at-bats himself, going 0-for-1 with a strikeout, being walked once, and stealing two bases.

As for how each of them did in the field, Smith said, “One (ground ball) was hit to Jaylin and he got an out. A fly ball came directly to Martavis, but it dropped in front of him for a bloop single.”

Smith said that the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game itself went well overall. He added that from the goals he had going in, he believed that everything went pretty much as expected.

“Everybody played an inning. Everybody played hard. Everybody got a lot of good looks (from college coaches and scouts,” Smith said.

Smith said attendance at the Hank Aaron Sports Academy, which he continued to refer it to as Smith-Wills Stadium, was good and the atmosphere was great.

“It was a night game. Turf field under the lights made for an outstanding atmosphere. I had a couple of the kids’ parents attend the game. I had a couple of people from Natchez who live in the Jackson area attend the game,” Smith said. “My family, my wife, and my parents came up and watched the game. They came there to support me.”

Smith noted that his parents traveled from Lorman while his sister traveled from Baton Rouge, La., and he said he has a brother who currently lives in Jackson whom he said has followed him through his coaching career all attend the game.

What Smith said he didn’t know last Friday night was that the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game was being live-streamed on Facebook by way of the Magnolia Sports Association’s website and that people from Natchez were watching it.

“They had a lot of support for me. They texted me and said they were watching the game. That made me feel proud,” Smith said. “I wanted to represent myself, my family, the Natchez community, the Natchez-Adams School District, which is where I attended school, and Alcorn State University. That’s the university I attended. That’s who molded me into the person I am today.”

Smith added that he wanted to make sure that each kid learned something about participating in the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game before they left.

“Four seniors got offers. Three juniors got visits to visit universities. My three main goals were accomplished,” Smith said.

Despite the weather delays and having to move the game from ECCC in Decatur to the Hank Aaron Sports Academy in Jackson, Smith said the event was very successful.

“If you’re doing it for the right reason, it will be successful. I had coaches tell me and text me (Tuesday) night that if it wasn’t for me and the MSA All-Star Game, their players wouldn’t have gotten all the looks that they got. We’re going to have it again next year,” Smith said.

As for where the 2024 edition of the MSA Grand Slam All-Star Baseball Game will be held, Smith said, “I would like to have it again next year at Smith-Wills Stadium. All the Smith-Wills staff welcomed us with open arms having it on such short notice. And the city of Jackson.”