MHSAA Baseball Playoffs 2021: 10 series to watch this week

The first-round MHSAA baseball playoffs matchups will all be in the books by late Monday night, but we’ve already gotten a glance at next weekend’s second-round matchups, and we are all in for a treat. Here’s a look at some of the best matchups from both the North and South.

North

Tupelo (23-7) vs. Oxford (24-4)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Oxford
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Tupelo
Game 3 (if necessary) – TBD Saturday at Oxford

This 6A showdown may be the best second-round matchup in the state, and that’s saying something. These two teams haven’t met since way back on March 3, when the Golden Wave handed Oxford one of it’s four losses in a high-scoring, 9-6 game.

Oxford had the first-round bye, but beat Grenada 12-1 in a final tune-up game Friday night. Tupelo swept Warren Central in the opening round.

Both teams have hung around the SB Live Power 10 rankings for most of the season and feature explosive offenses — Oxford has scored double-digit runs in six of its last eight games and Tupelo has scored at least seven in its last six outings — so solid pitching may end up being the key to the series.

Germantown (23-3) vs. DeSoto Central (20-9)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Germantown
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at DeSoto Central
Game 3 (if necessary) – 7 p.m. Saturday at Germantown

Another heavyweight bout in 6A will feature the steady Mavericks against the hot-as-a-firecracker Jaguars. The two teams haven’t met since way back on Feb. 27, when DeSoto Central beat Germantown 11-6 in Gluckstadt.

The Mavericks have won 19-straight going back to a loss to top-ranked Madison Central on March 12. They feature a good one-two punch with starting pitchers Bryce Fowler, a Southern Miss signee, and Cooper Williams, a Co-Lin Community College commit, but also a lineup that hits top-to-bottom.

On the other side, Brock Tapper and Ryan Musselwhite anchor a DeSoto Central lineup that has been on an absolute tear. The Jaguars have scored 55 runs in their last five games, and swept Clinton with a 19-7 win and a 6-4 win in the opening round. When Tapper (4-1) or Bradley Loftin (6-2) takes the hill, their chances of winning goes up significantly.

Grenada (19-5) vs. Saltillo (18-9)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 6 p.m. Thursday at Grenada
Game 2 – 6 p.m. Friday at Saltillo
Game 3 (if necessary) – 6 p.m. at Grenada

What a treat it is to get a second-round matchup like this knee-knocker in class 5A.

Saltillo stormed into the second round by beating the breaks off Callaway in a first-round sweep. The Tigers whipped the Chargers by a total score of 38-0 over two games, which lasted a combined four innings. Ace pitcher Drake Douglas has been very good on the hill, but Ben Webb and Ian Dillon have also been dependably starting games for weeks.

Grenada had the bye in the first round. The Mustangs won their final 12 games of the regular season before losing a couple of tune-up games against 6A heavyweight Oxford and Mooreville last weekend. The Mustangs are a threat to score runs in double-figures on any given day, and starting pitchers Ryan Wood and Landon Waters make them a tough out in a best-of-three series.

Amory (19-9) vs. Water Valley (21-6)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Water Valley
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Amory
Game 3 (if necessary) – 1 p.m. Saturday at Water Valley

This 3A matchups features a pair of teams that have not met on the field in 2021, but are both red-hot coming into the second round.

Amory beat the snot out of Choctaw County in its playoff-opening series and Water Valley swept by Thomas Edwards High (formerly Ruleville Central) without breaking a sweat. The Blue Devils’ one-through-five hitters are all tough outs, led by Dre McCray, Ty Kuykendall and Zack Martin.

Both teams have good series wins in their resume, although Amory has played a tougher schedule, at least top-to-bottom. Bo Rock has been solid for the Panthers in the middle of the lineup, but can also get it done on the mound. He’s only given up two earned runs in his last 11 innings on the mound.

Senatobia (18-7) vs. Kossuth (17-10)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Senatobia
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Kossuth
Game 3 (if necessary) – TBA Saturday at Senatobia

Another good 3A second-round series in the North half features an intriguing matchup between the Warriors and the Aggies. The two teams haven’t met on the field this season, but have been on almost identical trajectories.

The Aggies started out hot early in the year with big series wins over Amory, Belmont and Alcorn Central, but struggled down the stretch and split a two-game series Nettleton and got swept by Booneville. They showed last weekend they have plenty left in the tank, beating the breaks off of Houston in the opening round, winning 12-2 and 12-4.

Senatobia played a very tough schedule early in the season, which helped prepare them for region play. They only lost one game (against Water Valley) in the district and secured a first-round bye. The Warriors instead played a tuneup game at 5A Lafayette (who also had a bye), losing 11-1 Saturday.

Kossuth needs to win this series to have a chance at revenge against Booneville, who swept them in the regular season, and Senatobia is looking for its first trip to the third round since the school reclassified from 4A to 3A.

South

Hattiesburg (13-9) vs. West Jones (21-6)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 8 p.m. Thursday at West Jones
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Hattiesburg
Game 3 (if necessary) – TBA at West Jones

It’s that classic Pine Belt matchup between Hattiesburg and one of the Jones County teams, and it happens a couple times a year, despite the sport.

Hattiesburg comes into the second-round matchup after a somewhat disappointing regular season. The Tigers went 13-9, but they didn’t get to play near as many games as they would in a normal year.

They beat Jim Hill like a drum in the first round last week, sweeping two games at Smith Wills Stadium in Jackson last Thursday by a combined score of 30-2.

West Jones has been in the rankings all season, and with good reason. They’ve got four bats in the middle of the lineup hitting .290 or better — led by Austin Moody’s gaudy .370 — and ace pitcher Cole Tolbert is as good as anyone when he gets it going.

Stone (21-6) vs. Poplarville (16-10)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Wiggins
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Poplarville
Game 3 (if necessary) – 7 p.m. Saturday at Wiggins

This second-round 4A matchup between the Tomcats and Hornets should be very competitive.

Both teams have been in and out of the SB Live Power Rankings a couple of times, and both feature very good pitching staffs.

Stone swept Mendenhall last week, winning 6-3 and 7-3 behind strong outings from starting pitchers Gehrig Conard and Cortez Dennis.

Poplarville beat up on McComb in the first round after losing the opening game, winning 16-0 and 14-3 in games two and three. The Hornets have now scored 40 runs in their last four games.

Sumrall (25-2) vs. Vancleave (21-6)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Sumrall
Game 2 – 3 p.m. Friday at Vancleave
Game 3 – TBA Saturday at Sumrall

We’re getting down to crunch time already with another big showdown in 4A South between Sumrall and Vancleave.

Both storied programs have put together big seasons with both appearing in the Power 10 rankings at different points in the year. Sumrall was ranked No. 5 in the final rankings of the regular season.

The Bobcats beat Raymond 17-0 and 21-0 to sweep their opening-round series, and are now winners of 15 in a row. Vancleave swept a very good Florence team in two games, winning 5-0 and 8-5.

The Bulldogs are riding a modest six-game winning streak going into Thursday’s series opener.

St. Andrew’s (20-9) vs. West Marion (21-3)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 6 p.m. Thursday at Foxworth
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Ridgeland
Game 3 (if necessary – TBA Saturday at Foxworth

3A South front-runner West Marion faces a much tougher out this week when they face St. Andrew’s Episcopal.

The Trojans put together a 15-game winning streak in the middle of the season, but had cooled off headed into their first playoff series after losing their final two games of the regular season. They bounced back with two dominant wins over Forest in the first round, beating the Bearcats 10-0 and 20-1.

The Saints beat the snot out of Port Gibson in back-to-back games to advance past the first round, winning 12-2 and 12-0.

St. Andrew’s can make a playoff splash a year or two early with a series win over the heavily favored Trojans. The Saints have a slew of freshmen in key positions, but can win just about any game ace pitcher Matthew Azordegan starts.

Mize (17-11) vs. Lake (20-4)

Games schedule
Game 1 – 7 p.m. Thursday at Lake
Game 2 – 7 p.m. Friday at Mize
Game 3 (if necessary) – TBA Saturday at Lake

The Lake Hornets have been one of the most consistent teams in 2A South all season, but they’ll have their hands full against a battle-tested Mize team this weekend.

Lake swept through Wesson in the first round with a 10-0 win in game one and a 14-9 win in game two. The Hornets are short on pitching, but can always rely on staff ace Brady McGee, who shut out Wesson on four hits last weekend.

Mize counters with a lineup that hits top-to-bottom, as it did in the decisive game of their first-round playoff series against St. Patrick after splitting the first two. The Bulldogs won 9-6.

The winner of this series will get 2A South frontrunner Taylorsville in the third round, unless Scott Central can pull the upset.

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