East Webster, Eupora begin second round of baseball playoffs

Staff Writer

It’s nothing new to see the Webster County schools still standing as the final two MHSAA schools in the area playing baseball and they’ve both advanced to the second round yet again.

After Choctaw County and Starkville were defeated in the first round of the playoffs, it’s down to Eupora and East Webster to carry the banner. Starkville Academy will start their playoff run in the MAIS next Tuesday when it takes on Indianola Academy in the opening round.

The Eagles and Wolverines made quick work of their Class 2A opponents. East Webster (20-6) won Region 2 with a record of 8-1 and were afforded playing the No. 4 seed in Region 3 for round one which was O’Bannon.

The Wolverines have plenty of experience facing off with the Greenwaves as they beat them 60-0 in two games back in 2016. Coach Wes Johnson sat his starters for the doubleheader this time around and played mostly junior varsity in 13-3 and 17-2 victories.

Next up for East Webster is a much tougher opponent as they take on New Site (18-4) beginning Friday night at 7 p.m. in Cumberland. Though they’re the No. 3 team in Region 1, New Site was behind two-time defending state champions East Union and Ingomar, which eliminated the Wolverines from the playoffs a season ago.  

“They’ve got two pitchers that are really good," Johnson said. "One of them has signed with Northeast (Community College) and the other one is strong as well. We did some simulated scrimmaging and showed (the players) some live pitching so we should be ready to go.”

East Webster has been swinging a hot bat this season and should provide quite the challenge for those New Site arms. Through 26 games, the Wolverines have a team batting average of .350, including 51 doubles, 13 home runs and six triples.

Wes Silver has been the team’s best at the plate with his .522 average, 36 hits, 33 RBI, 14 doubles, two triples and two homes runs. Just recently, he’s also added an extra push for the pitching staff after rehabbing from injury. It’s a staff that has carried a team earned run average of 3.24 with 201 strikeouts in 151.1 innings.

“That’s our strength,” Johnson said of his pitching staff. “We’ve had about five different guys that have had key roles. Art Thompson and Gray McCarter have come late and filled a role. Wes had a good fall and is a strike thrower so he gives us added depth. We like where we are.”

The Wolverines will travel to New Site on Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest and if necessary, they’ll come back home for game three on Monday night at 7 p.m.

For the Eagles of Eupora, they've got their work cut out for them as well. For the second-straight year, Eupora (13-12) meets up with the defending champs of East Union. Last season, the two teams met in the third round and the Eagles were just a game away from advancing to North State before the Urchines took the last two games of the series.

East Union is just as strong this year looking for a three-peat of that Class 2A title and at 22-4, it is primed for it. Eupora does come in with a bit of a hot streak, however, having one each of the last six games, including a sweep in the first round against West Bolivar.

That first round featured the return to form of Al Dumas, who was 4-for-4 in game one of the series and was a home run shy of the cycle in an 8-3 win. He went 2-for-5 in a 14-2 game two to clinch a 6-for-9 week at the plate and bump his average up to .368.

The big question mark for the weekend is whether or not Tanner Knight will be on the mound after resting from an injury the last several games. Knight has been playing first base during his absence on the mound, but the Eagles will need him to make a run.

Game one in Blue Springs takes place Friday night at 6 p.m. with game two back in Eupora on Saturday at 2 p.m. The if necessary game will be at East Union on Monday night at 6 p.m.