Flashes going back to basics after 11-4 loss

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 1, 2004

St. Al’s Kyle Richards delivers a pitch Saturday in a loss to Natchez. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[2/29/04]St. Al coach Joe Graves is taking his team back to the basics.

The veteran Flashes’ coach watched his team try to pull pitch after pitch against Natchez pitcher Matthew Henderson in an 11-4 loss, and he saw enough.

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“We are going to set up cones in right field, put the ball on the tee and hit it between the cones,” said Graves, whose team lost for the first time this season.

“Everyone is trying to pull the baseball and work away from our hands,” Graves said. “I told them, when you work away from your hands, you hit squibbers and you hit popcorn. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

The Flashes, who have not had onfield practice in more than a week because of rain, had a golden opportunity to get to Henderson in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Jordan Muirhead led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a Kyle Richards’ double.

Henderson, though, struck out Drew Mazzanti, Rob Jones and coaxed a “popcorn” popout by Josh Martin to escape the inning unscathed, and keep Natchez in the lead 5-3.

“I threw strikes and came through when I needed to most,” said Henderson, who pitched the Bulldogs to their first win of the season with a 7-inning decision.

After Henderson got out of the jam, The Flashes fell apart.

Three errors and some timely hitting most notably a two-RBI single by Marcus Washington led to five Natchez runs and the rout was on. Joe Hayes added a double and Jeremiah Green singled in the inning as well.

“We had some timely hitting today,” said Natchez coach Charlie Williams, who lost to St. Al 9-5 in the season-opener. “We didn’t have timely hitting the last time we played them. We played really well today.”

Leading 10-3 in the top of the seventh and getting to a tiring Kyle Richards, Drew Kossum belted a home run over the left field wall for an 11-3 lead.

The Flashes added one run in the bottom of the seventh. Richards singled and Drew Mazzanti doubled to move Richards to third. He scored when Martin reached on a fielding error.

Richards took the loss.

Natchez took a 4-0 lead after the first half an inning, but the Flashes battled back for three in the bottom of the first.

The Bulldogs (1-3) added a run in the fourth inning for a 5-3 lead.

The Flashes are scheduled to play at Bogue Chitto on Tuesday and return home for Friday to face Enterprise.