WC 4th in final USA Today poll

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 7, 2001

[06/06/01] The honors just keep piling on the Warren Central baseball program.

The Vikings, who finished their state championship season 36-3, earned a No. 4 ranking in USA Today, the highest national ranking of any sports team in Warren County history.

“We did everything we could to do to make ourselves where we are, but we have no control over it because our season is over,” said Southern Mississippi signee Kevin Coker, who will be one of three Warren Central players in Saturday’s state all-star game.

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“We’re proud of it and we’d love to play any of those other teams ranked ahead of us.”

Some of the teams chosen in the national poll have not finished their seasons yet, but coach Sam Temple said he was told the Vikings would finish at No. 4.

WC was also recognized in the latest Baseball America poll. WC moved from No. 16 to 15.

“Being ranked that high makes people understand, hopefully, not only how good this team is but how good this program is,” said Temple, who will coach Saturday’s all-star game at Hattiesburg’s Pete Taylor Park. “We’ve worked pretty hard at that.”

The ranking was impressive enough for the WC players to make sure it will be on the yet-to-be-bought state championship rings.

The Vikings, after losing the final two games of the regular season, swept Starkville, Madison Central, Tupelo and Hattiesburg en route to the school’s first title.

A couple of key losses by top teams allowed WC to move to No. 4.

Bishop Amat of La Puente, Calif., earned the newspaper’s top ranking. Seminole, Fla., a team that had to forfeit 10 games because of an ineligible player, took the No. 2 ranking and Desert Vista High (Phoenix) was No. 3.

The Vikings were No. 2 in the South Region behind Seminole.

“Being anywhere in that poll is a high honor,” Taylor Tankersley said. “Being there is just amazing.”

WC returns five starters next season and expectations are already high. Carl Upton, who along with Tankersley tossed four complete game wins in the playoffs, and Brian Pettway will lead an experienced, balanced squad.

Temple said the expectations are nothing compared to ones the Vikings place on themselves.

“Expectations here are every year,” Temple said. “You take every year exactly what it is, you build it and work hard.

“Nobody, nobody ever puts pressure on with expectations as much as we put on ourselves.”