All-star game has PCA flavor

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 1, 2001

[06/01/01] All-star games are usually a fun wrap-up to the high school baseball season.

But a couple of Porters Chapel Academy players will be mixing business with pleasure Saturday.

Pitcher Heath Smith, shortstop Clayton Hensley and coach Randy Wright will represent PCA in the Academy A-AA All-Star Game at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson. The game begins at 2 p.m.

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“It’s a great opportunity to have one last chance to coach those two guys. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun for all of us,” said Wright, who was picked to serve as an assistant coach for the South squad when PCA won the Academy-A South State title.

Neil Bartling, who led Simpson Academy to the AA state championship this year, is the South’s head coach.

Wright will be coaching in his first high school all-star game, but it’s the fourth straight year that PCA has had at least one all-star. It’s also the second time in three years that PCA has had two players selected for the game.

“I think that speaks volumes about the program and where it’s going,” Wright said.

Smith and Hensley, meanwhile, will be trying to impress college scouts one last time. Neither player has gotten a firm offer from any school yet, but Hensley was hoping a good showing on Saturday would change that.

“I’m looking at this game as my chance to shine. If I’m going to do anything, I have to do it this Saturday,” Hensley said. “I’ve just got to go out there and play my best game Saturday and maybe get me a scholarship.”

That doesn’t mean things are all business, however. Smith said he has enjoyed the chance to finally get to know some of the players he’s gone against for the last four years.

“It feels great. Us playing all these teams, we’re like enemies. Now we come together and find out what they’re like. They’re really nice,” Smith said. “Every team we played against all year is on our side now.”

As fun as the camaraderie is, it may not be quite as fun as what Smith and Hensley left behind to play in the game.

The pair cut short a senior trip to Florida to come back for practices this week.

“My senior trip has been half at the beach and half on the baseball field,” Hensley said. “And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”