By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
The Noxapater High School Tigers had won six of their last nine games heading into the their scheduled ‘Senior Night’ contest against visiting Scott Central on Tuesday.
Noxapater head coach Casey Orr is hoping his team’s recently level of play continues as they hit the road to take on Natchez Cathedral at 4:30 p.m.Thursday in the first round of the MSHAA Class 1A State Baseball Playoffs. Cathedral is set to visit Noxapater at 4:30 p.m. on Friday for the second game of the best-of-three series. The “if needed” game would be played in Noxapater on Friday as well.
“As a team, we are getting it right at the right time,” Orr said. “They are starting to realize they can compete and play with whoever they face. The young guys are finally starting to figure it all out. It just took them a while.”
Orr noted that this was the first time in five years that the Tigers had qualified for the baseball playoffs.
“Our seniors have been a big part of our success,” Orr said. “Marshall Kugle has played a big role for us, and Nick Strehle has really come alive with the bat during that nine-game stretch.”
Noxapater swept a doubleheader from West Oktibbeha 15-0 and 13-1 last Thursday and took a forfeit win over East Oktibbeha on Monday to move to 8-9 overall.
Manley Peterson allowed just one hit and struck out four to pick up the shutout win over West Oktibbeha in the first game of the doubleheader, while Brandon Kugle had a double, single and three RBIs. Nick Strehle and Trevara Miller each had a triple and RBI for the winners in the game, while James Stalcup had a double and three RBIs and Marshall Kugle and a single and two RBIs. Keonte Daniels also had a hit for Noxapater in the game.
Sophomore Matt Smith earned his first career start on the mound in the nightcap and responded with a five-strikeout, three-hit performance to earn the win. Marshall Kugle blasted a triple for the winners, while Daniels had a double. Picking up singles were Caleb Chandler, Smith, Anthony Coburn, Strehle and R.J. Pierce.
Chandler, Smith, Coburn and Pierce had two RBIs each in the game, while Brandon Kugle, Marshall Kugle, Dalton Keen, and Strehle each had an RBI.