Sports column: Playoff baseball in mid-May? It’s been way too long

Published 3:13 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

After he threw a three-hit shutout to clinch Warren Central’s second-round baseball playoff series victory against Saltillo, Maddox Lynch only needed three words to put into perspective how long it’s been since the school has been playing this deep into May.

“I’m only 17,” Lynch said. “It hasn’t hit me. It’s just big for everybody. It’s big for all the past players that played here. We wanted to do it for them.”

Lynch is 17 years old. It’s been 20 years since the Vikings were in the state semifinals, and 23 since the school’s only state championship. Lynch wasn’t even a distant gleam in his parents’ eyes yet when those playoff runs occurred.

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Now he was punching Warren Central’s ticket to the MHSAA Class 6A semifinals that begin Friday night against Center Hill.

Maybe it’s a function of how quickly time passes, or how long good memories last, but it certainly doesn’t seem that long ago when Vicksburg was one of Mississippi’s best high school baseball towns.

Between 2001 and 2010, all four of Warren County’s high school teams played for a state championship. Warren Central won in 2001. Porter’s Chapel won three times (2003, 2006 and 2009), and St. Aloysius went back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. Vicksburg High reached the MHSAA Class 4A finals, but lost, in 2008.

All four teams had at least one player sign with a Division I college team. Warren Central had a couple drafted by major league teams, including a first-round pick with pitcher Taylor Tankersley.

It was a golden age for the sport that we might have taken for granted. Our teams haven’t necessarily been bad over the past 10 or 15 years, but they haven’t matched the across-the-board success of the 2000s.

Warren Central has a chance to change that this weekend. The Vikings played Game 1 of the Class 6A semifinals — the North State championship series — Friday night at Center Hill, then are back home for Game 2 Saturday at 7 p.m.

Warren Central has never played a postseason game at Trustmark Park. When it last played in the state finals in 2001, Trustmark hadn’t yet been built and the championship series were played at campus sites.

The Vikings clinched that 2001 championship on the road against Hattiesburg in front of a crowd estimated at 2,000 people. In Game 1 of that series, at Viking Field, another loud crowd that could have rivaled the atmosphere of a big SEC weekend at Dudy Noble Field or Swayze Field was in attendance. Fans packed the perimeter of the field. Students parked pickup trucks behind the outfield fence and watched from their tailgates.

It was a scene no one there could ever forget. Now it’s time to recreate it, and make a memory that’ll last another generation. Show up. Show out. Support the Vikings and, hopefully, cheer them on to a victory that’s taken way too long to witness.

Then let’s do it again in Pearl.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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