By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
While the 2014 version of the Noxapater High School baseball team may not be as young as the one last year, there will still be plenty of youngsters on the field for the Tigers at times this season.
“We are still going to be pretty young,” said Noxapater head coach Casey Orr. “Last year we didn’t have any seniors (who started). This year we have two or three who we are going to be counting on for senior leadership. Our strength is going to come in the form of our ninth grade class. That is a good thing for the future.”
Among those experienced seniors who will be counted on to carry a large portion of the load is Marshall Kugle.
“Marshall is going to be our No. 1 on the mound and our three-hole hitter,” Orr said. “He is our real (offensive) threat.”
Others being counted on to provide some offensive firepower will be a trio of freshmen — Manley Peterson, Keonte Daniels and R.J. Pierce. Daniels is likely to hit in the lead-off spot, with Pierce and Peterson also being high in the order.
Orr said his team also should be strong up the middle, with freshman Brandon Kugle behind the plate, Pierce at shortstop and Daniels in centerfield.
“Even though we are young, a lot of them have been through the fire and have gained some maturity,” Orr said.
When it comes to pitching, Orr wants his hurlers to keep it simple. “We want to throw strikes and keep the ball in play,” he said.
Noxapater will compete in the same district as Nanih Waiya, West Lowndes, East Oktibbeha and West Oktibbeha.
The Tigers opened the season last weekend by splitting a pair of games in its own classic. The Tigers opened the season with an 8-3 win over Newton, before falling to Philadelphia 17-6.
The contest with Newton was close through four innings, before Noxapater scored six runs over its last two at-bats to take control of the contest. Pierce picked up the win in relief, striking out seven and allowing just one run and one hit.
Daniels, Pierce, Marshall Kugle, Trevara Miller, Peterson and Tristan Boyette all had singles for the winners, while Peterson and Miller each drove in a pair of runs.
Noxapater had a defensive breakdown in the loss to Philadelphia, making six errors, including three straight to open the second inning. Philly scored nine runs in that inning, all unearned, to take control of the contest.
Peterson slapped a pair of hits to lead Noxapater at the plate in the game, while Matt Smith, Pierce and David Parker each had a single.
The Tigers are scheduled to visit French Champ on Friday, before facing Hebron Christian and Riverside in the East Webster Classic on Saturday. Noxapater will return to East Webster on Monday to take on Bruce.
The next home game for Noxapater will be on March 18 when Ethel pays a visit.