The St. Martin baseball team is less than 24 hours away from making its first ever appearance in a state championship series. In the other dugout, Desoto Central is making its second trip to state in as many years as the defending 6A champions.
After sweeping Biloxi in South State, no moment appears to be too big for the Yellowjackets. Perhaps they were made for moments just like this.
“We have this one line that we say every day before the game, before practice: just another day in the office.” On Tuesday, the office is St. Martin High School. On Wednesday, the office is Trustmark Park as the Yellowjackets break it down as Les French Field for the last time in 2019. Left fielder Landon Pankonin said, “People doubted us at the beginning of the year. I mean people knew we were going to be good but nobody thought we would get this far because we’ve never in history done anything like we’re doing right now.”
The Yellowjackets made their first South State appearance in 24 years one to remember, closing out a two-game sweep of Biloxi at home with a jaw-dropping ten run bottom of the first. Head Baseball Coach Kary Bridges said, “Well, I remember the first inning. That was just a great job by our guys. We were focused, and I think one of the biggest challenges of the postseason is to try to be playing your best baseball at that time of the year. And I really feel like that’s what we’re doing. We hope it is good enough, but the last series we played, the two games against Biloxi, were about as good as we’ve played all year.”
The Yellowjackets played so well they wrapped up their semi-final series three days sooner than Desoto Central thanks in part to Mother Nature. St. Martin used some of that extra time at MGM Park on Monday before shifting the focus to beating the eighth ranked team in the nation, according to Max Preps, twice in less than a week. “We made a comment after the first game at Oak Grove that we’re not going to be intimidated by anybody. Now DeSoto Central might beat us, they might be better than us. If that’s the case, that’s great. But it’s not going to be because we were intimidated or scared. We’re going to go out there and play our game, and I think we’ll be competitive.”
Coming from winning just six games as freshman in 2016 to have already won six playoff games in 2019, St. Martin’s six seniors are in the midst of leaving a legacy, second to none, win, lose, or draw. Catcher R.J. Fletcher said, “I’m looking forward to, my freshman year we won six games, and then to this year just completely flipped a switch. Hopefully we can get it done and just make that statement right there.”
To those six seniors, Head Coach Kary Bridges says thank you and his final message ahead of game one: ‘hay’s in the barn.’ “Oh yeah, he’s been saying that before every series. Nothing else we can do, just play St. Martin baseball.”
“Nothing else we can do, just go out there and play our game. We’re ready for everything.”
“They can’t try to play any better, they’ve just got to play with what we’re capable of playing and we’ll see what happens.”
The Yellowjackets and Jaguars will lead things off at 7 p.m. tomorrow from Trustmark Park up in Pearl.