WC, St. Al, PCA hit the road|[04/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2008

Warren Central coach Randy Brome was walking to his office Tuesday afternoon, chatting on his cellphone with another coach and exchanging notes. When the conversation turned toward WC’s chance in its first-round regional this weekend, Broome was optimistic.

“It’s not like we’re playing the Yankees,” Broome said.

Not this week, at least. That, or the Mississippi high school equivalent, will come if the Vikings survive the regional. This weekend WC needs to get past Grenada and host Desoto Central in the three-team, double-elimination tournament. WC will play Grenada today at 6. The winner will face Desoto Central on Friday at 4 p.m., with the loser turning around for an elimination game at 7. The championship round is on Saturday, and the winner of the regional advances to a likely second-round matchup with second-ranked Tupelo (25-2) next week.

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While each team has its strong points — Grenada (12-8) has one of the state’s top players in Demarcus Tidwell, while Desoto (20-5) won the Division 1-5A championship — it’s just another tough couple of games in a season full of them. Broome did his best to prepare his team by loading up a brutal schedule. He believes it has given the Vikings a needed edge heading into the playoffs.

“If you run through our schedule, Terry is ranked. Oauchita, Madison Central, Hillcrest, Alabama, are ranked. Vicksburg advanced in the playoffs. Pearl made the playoffs. Clinton won the division,” Broome said. “The schedule says whoever we play isn’t going to be a wowser. We’ve played the wowsers already.”

Unfortunately, WC didn’t wow many of the wowsers.

WC finished the regular season with an 8-18 record, with six of the wins coming against lowly Provine and Greenville-Weston in division play. The other two wins came against solid teams from Pearl and Clinton, and there were enough close calls against other playoff teams to indicate the Vikings are better than their record. WC lost to Madison Central last week, 5-3, and had a three-run lead on Brandon with one out in the seventh inning on Saturday before letting it slip away. Both Madison and Brandon made the playoffs, as did 16 of the 20 teams WC faced this season.

WC played five games against teams from Louisiana, which is still settling its playoff brackets. Of those five, West Monroe, Neville and West Ouachita are in the playoffs, and Dutchtown and Ouachita have winning records but are still fighting for a spot. The only Mississippi teams WC played that didn’t make the postseason were Provine — a division rival that finished fourth — and Northeast Lauderdale. The Vikings also faced defending Alabama Class 6A champion Hillcrest, which has advanced to the second round this season.

Broome said the Vikings are playing well lately, but need to focus in a little more to make some noise in the playoffs.

“The biggest thing is going all out and wanting to be the man. We’ve showed signs of playing great baseball, and there’s always one thing that’s bad. The big thing is staying focused for seven innings,” Broome said. “You need people who say, ‘hit the baseball to me and I’m going to get you out,’ or ‘I’m going to get us that big hit.’ Some people call it cocky, and that’s confidence. It’s something we haven’t played with a whole lot.”

St. Al at Ethel

The Flashes can earn a date with Class 1A state power East Webster if they can take care of playoff newcomer Ethel starting tonight at Ethel.

Ethel (19-11) won its first-ever division championship with a 9-1 league record. They won two straight playoff games over Weir to advance to the second round. As a team, Ethel hits .325.

The Flashes took care of Bogue Chitto in two straight games in the opening round of the playoffs, scoring in double-digits both games.

The second game of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 6 Friday evening at Warren Central’s Viking Field.

PCA at Univ. Christian

Porters Chapel Academy can close out its first round Academy-A playoff series at University Christian today.

The two district rivals played on Tuesday with PCA’s Matt Cranfield throwing a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts.

If a third game is needed, it would be played on Friday at Porters Chapel.