Drew Pellum and Starkville Academy travel to Senatobia to take on Magnolia Heights for a sate championship today. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
For the second week in a row, the Starkville Academy baseball team opens a playoff series on the road.
The Volunteers travel north today to Senatobia to take on Magnolia Heights for the Class AAA, Division II state title.
Games two and three will be at Volunteer Field starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Both teams won their divisions.
The Chiefs (30-5-1) are coming off a first-round series win over Hillcrest Christian.
Magnolia Heights lost game one in Jackson 5-2, but bounced back to win both games at home 18-0 and 4-2.
The Vols (23-9) are coming off a sweep of Heritage Academy in the first round. SA played two totally different ballgames, winning an offensive game 11-10 in game one and a defensive struggle in game two 3-0.
"When it got into a shootout, we played into the shootout," Starkville Academy head coach Neal Henry said. "When we got back to our place, we played pitching and defense. It will probably be a pitching and defense type game, but if it is a shootout, we will just adjust to that."
The Vols and Chiefs met earlier this year in a preseason jamboree. Magnolia Heights won the five-inning game.
SA has played Magnolia Heights since it moved to the north three years ago.
"I have a pretty good idea about (Magnolia Heights)," Henry said. "I haven't seen them in person with my own two eyes this year. You can hear people say stuff and they can tell you stuff, but you have to see with your own two eyes how good a team is or what they do."
The Volunteers have had a simple approach all year, and Henry does not expect that to change today.
"It's just another baseball game," Henry said. "Not anything more, not anything less. We are just going to go up there, play our game, which is pitching and defense."
Colby Runnels swung the bat well against Heritage last week and stepped up defensively with a couple of caught stealings.
"Our whole team is seeing it well and they just want to win," Henry said. "They don't really care what they do or who gets the glory. All they want to do is win. If we have that goal as a team, that can get us to where we need to go."
This is Henry's first state title series as a head coach. He took over the Volunteers in 2009.
"We are going to play loose (today)," Henry said.
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