WC’s Pettway OK’d to play vs. Starkville

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 19, 2001

[04/19/01] Warren Central received some welcome news Wednesday as the Vikings begin their bid for a Class 5A state championship Thursday against Starkville.

Junior Brian Pettway, the team’s leading hitter at .489 with 17 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBIs, will play after leaving Saturday’s game against Woodlawn, La., with a sore elbow.

Pettway, who went to the doctor in Jackson on Tuesday, will not be able to pitch in the first playoff series, coach Sam Temple said. He will be able to play the field and hit, though.

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Pettway, the team’s No. 2 pitcher, had Temple agonizing over his pitching rotation on Wednesday.

Either Carl Upton (8-0, 1.14 ERA) or Alabama signee Taylor Tankersley (9-0, 0.31 ERA) will get the nod Thursday, with the other pitching Friday in Starkville.

“We know all about Tankersley and Pettway,” Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said. “But they have a lot more guys that can hurt you.”

Carlisle said his Yellowjackets’ chances against powerful WC are just as good as anyone else’s, even if they are matched up with the No. 12 team in America.

“There are 32 teams in 5A and half of them are at the house,” Carlisle said.

But the veteran coach is also realistic.

“We feel really fortunate to be playing. It’s kind of like a dog running down the interstate without getting hit, we’re lucky,” Carlisle said.

“But I know against that bunch, we better be ready to play or we’ll get run over.”

The Yellowjackets have notched wins over Madison Central and had No. 5 Tupelo down 5-2 heading into the last inning before losing 9-5.

The Vikings (28-3) limp into the playoffs, riding a two-game losing streak. WC’s last scheduled game of the regular season Monday was canceled.

“We’re chomping at the bit, ready to play ball,” WC coach Sam Temple said.

Rightfully so. The Vikings had an 11-game winning streak to open the season, then after their first loss went on to win 17 in a row.

The Yellowjackets will rely on Prentiss McLaurin’s left arm. The senior no-hit Grenada, 10-0, and was in line for the win at Tupelo before running out of gas.

The Vikings say they are not concerned about facing a tough lefty even though the three losses this season have been to southpaws.

“We’ve been practicing hard all week. We have to do it now,” Vikings’ center fielder Chris Hite said. “We’ve forgotten about those losses already.”

A win Thursday will boost WC, Temple said, partly because Starkville is a better home team. Carlisle and Temple raved about the atmosphere and the stadium.

“I would like to think we have one of the premier parks in the state,” said Carlisle, whose team lost its only matchup with WC 10-0 earlier this season. “It’s a good atmosphere and there’s not a bad seat in the house.”

A much-anticipated second-round matchup with Madison Central awaits should WC advance past Starkville and MC beat Horn Lake.

Hite said the Vikings are far from overlooking the Yellowjackets despite their big win earlier in the season.

“That was just the regular season this is the playoffs,” Hite said. “It’s a whole different time.”