By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
A lot of folks may be surprised about how successful the Nanih Waiya baseball team has been this year, but senior catcher Stewart Ball is not one of them.
Just a week after signing to play baseball with East Mississippi next season, the power-hitting catcher not onlyexpressed his pleasure at how well the 12-4 Warriors are playing after begin depleted by graduation last year, but also noted that the best is yet to come.
“If we play like we have been playing and keep playing great defense and work together we may continue to open some eyes up,” Ball said. “We can go a long way this year, but personally, I believe that when these young guys that are on the team now become juniors or seniors in two or three years it could be the best team Nanih Waiya has had.”
Nanih Waiya head coach Tyler Rogers has been counting on Ball’s athletic and leadership abilities this season as the Warriors have clinched the region championship and is now looking to head into the playoffs.
Ball is enjoying his last season as a Warrior, but is also looking forward to his college career. He confided that it wasn’t easy to make his final choice to go to EMCC, but there was just something about the program and the facilities that drew him to Scooba.
“I played with a lot of the other guys who are going there in State Games and I know a lot of the guys,” Ball said. “I liked coach (Chris) Rose and the facilities. And it’s also close to home.”
Ball, who is the son of Will and J.J. Ball, said he expects to battle for playing time behind the plate when he gets to Scooba net year. “I’ve been playing catcher my whole life and have been a starter in high school since the ninth grade,” he said. “I even started a few games in the eighth. It’s just where I feel comfortable and I enjoy it.”
“I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be a good college baseball player,” Rogers said. “He has talent, but the biggest thing about Stewart is that he is just such a hard worker. He is always staying late and getting in extra work. His dedication is just not a question.”
While Ball certainly enjoyed being part of two state championship teams at Nanih Waiya, he also had an usual thrill last Saturday during the Warriors 10-7 win over Eupora.
When his youngest brother Roper, who is in the eighth grade, substituted late in the game, that meant that Stewart, sophomore Wyatt Ball and Roper were all in the game at the same time and were hitting fourth, fifth and sixth in the lineup.
“I never thought it would happen, but it did,” he said. “It was good to get to play with both of them. That may never happen again. Especially after this year.”