The Hilltoppers barely took a break during the school holiday, but came up with four wins on the diamond for their efforts.
“We had a pretty good break,” said coach Scott Gann of the Toppers week of play.
Houston posted a 4-1 win over Harding Academy in the Booneville Tournament and blew away West Point at home March 11.
The Toppers racked up 12 runs over four innings and allowed the Green Wave only two runs in the fourth before shutting them down in the fifth. Pitcher Austin Burdine threw three strike-outs with runners at second and third to retire the side and end the game, 12-2.
The Toppers continued to play positive, besting Belmont, 4-3, and Amory, 5-2, in the Saltillo Tournament.
Against Belmont, the Toppers took a one-run lead to begin and battled the Cardinals with Denver McQuary getting the win on the hill.
Freshman Anekein Rish picked up his second win of the season against Amory with Clay Hillhouse getting the nod for the save.
Houston left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and Amory went ahead, 1-0, in the top of the second.
Justin Kimbrough and Garrison Howell both had RBI singles in the bottom of the frame to put Houston in the lead, 2-1 and the Panthers tied it up in the fifth.
Kimbrough had an RBI single and Wes Parker had a two-RBI single to give the Toppers the 5-2 lead and win.
Working out the kinks
Gann said the team’s youth played a factor in scheduling so many pre-division games.
“We knew we would be young this season, but we aren’t going to let that be an excuse for mistakes and errors and losses,” Gann said. “We started off slow but have begun to start figuring some things out. The pitching staff is beginning to find the strike zone more regularly, giving us a chance to win ball games. Our defense has been pretty solid so far and our bats are beginning to catch the ball on the sweet spot just a bit more, too.”
Gann said he is seeing a total team effort on the field.
“Seems like someone different is stepping up in a big-time way every time we’re out there,” Gann said.
The Toppers were scheduled to break division in Carthage against Leake County Tuesday and will host the Gators Friday. They will host Choctaw County Saturday at noon and 2 p.m.
“Our division is a tough as they come, but we played a ton of games early on to help us prepare,” Gann said.