Blue Waves aim for more improvement|Prep baseball
Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 19, 2009
PORT GIBSON — At most programs, a four-win season is a disaster. For Port Gibson, it was a step in the right direction.
The Blue Waves are a team in obvious rebuilding mode. They didn’t win a game in 2007, making last season’s 4-18 record an improvement. With six starters returning and only three seniors on the roster, as well as a full summer schedule under its belt, second-year coach Dan Smith is hoping his team can continue to get better.
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“I’m building. Each year we continue to get better, so that’s the main thing. In a couple years, if we continue to play during the summer, we’ll be OK,” Smith said. “It started off slow. But as long as it started, that’s the main thing.”
As Port Gibson prepares for tonight’s season-opener at home against Jefferson County, it still has a long way to go to claim a place among Mississippi’s elite. Three of its top four pitchers are freshmen, and an eighth-grader, Silento Sayles, is starting at shortstop. Senior outfielder Jessie Hicks, one of the team’s best players, is still with the basketball team as that squad makes a deep run into the Class 4A playoffs.
The lack of a youth program in the city also means most of the players on the high school team have just a couple of years of baseball experience under them. Against division rivals like Brookhaven, McComb, Forest Hill and Lawrence County, which have strong baseball traditions, that puts the Blue Waves at a disadvantage.
“The kids are excited about this year. I can see it. That’s good. We still have a long way to go, though,” Smith said. “Everybody we’re playing has 8 to 10 years on them. But they’re watching baseball and talking about baseball. They’re going to be something special by the time they’re in 10th or 11th grade.”
There are a few bright spots, too. Freshman pitcher Dominic Savage has a lively arm, and junior center fielder Rudy Wilson has some pop in his bat. Sayles is also a smooth fielder at shortstop, and Smith said he and Savage are solid building blocks.
“The future of Port Gibson baseball is going to rely on those two,” Smith said.
The present, though, includes modest goals. Surpassing last year’s win total and winning a division game for the first time in several years would be a nice start.
Contact Ernest Bowker at firstname.lastname@example.org.