By Lisa Voyles
The Houston Middle School Toppers had a shorter regular season than planned but are making up for it this summer.
“We were supposed to get 20 games and we got maybe 12 because of rain and varsity rescheduling,” said Coach Coty Cox.
As long as the weather holds, the Junior Toppers will see plenty of action with three double-headers a week scheduled through the month of June.
“It get us more games to get better,” Cox said of the summer season.
The Toppers already started off strong, facing Choctaw County School twice last week. In Tuesday’s game, the Toppers took two wins, 3-2, 3-0 and in Thursday’s game they tied the first game, 3-3, and shut out the Choctaw boys 4-0 in the nightcap.
Cox said the team, which consists of this spring’s junior high team, is shaping up well. The Junior Toppers posted a 10-2 record through the regular season and Cox is looking for the same success in his players this summer.
Currently, he has worked two pitchers who just completed eighth grade, Tanner Smith and Anakin Rish, and two rising eighth-graders, Coltin Peel and Colton Foster.
“They all look really good,” Cox said. “This week, for the first time, we’re throwing Kylan Carter and Jered Bean.”
Peel and Smith have also been pulling double-duty behind the plate.
“They have both done an excellent job both catching and pitching,” Cox said.
The summer season affords Cox and varsity coach, Scott Gann, an opportunity to get their players more experience and make a smoother transition from eighth grade to high school.
“We have a lot of eighth-graders who will be ready for high school next year,” Cox said, pointing out that although the freshmen will be JV players, they need to be prepared for varsity.
“They may not fill in for varsity next year,” Cox said. “But they can really help us if they are needed.”
The Junior Toppers were scheduled to play in Calhoun City Tuesday and return to the home field Thursday to take on Vardaman. They will be in Cumberland Saturday with the Wolverines. Cox said fans in the stands make a real difference to the team.
“It’s a lot easier to play baseball when you have a good crowd out there,” Cox said. “It transfers over to the field.”
He believes those who make a trip to the ball field won’t be disappointed.
“There a definitely a lot of bright spots on our junior high team,” Cox said.