Bulldogs have the momentum heading into playoffs

Published 12:03 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

MEADVILLE — No jukebox was provided for the Franklin County baseball team at practice Wednesday afternoon. The team didn’t need one, as senior designated hitter Connor Quin provided his own melody.

“Ah, I don’t remember the rest of it,” said Quin, after singing a chorus during batting practice. “Man, I don’t even know the name of it. I heard it this morning on the radio, ‘90s alternative.”

Twenty-four hours away from a playoff game against McLaurin High School, the Bulldogs were a relaxed group, feeling confident after winning nine of their last 11 games. After a 3-4 start, Franklin County is now 12-6 on the season, and the season turnaround came after an 8-5 loss to Cathedral in Natchez.

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“(Cathedral coach Craig) Beesley got me,” Franklin County head coach Brent Calcote said. “But since then, we’ve started hitting the ball. I think the rain was a huge factor this season. Usually by this point, we would’ve played 24 games.”

The Bulldogs were hitting .223 as a team early in the season, but with four of their last five games resulting in double-digit wins, Calcote said the Bulldogs are now hitting over .300 as a team, giving Franklin County a lot of momentum heading into the postseason. But don’t jump the gun and say Franklin County is peaking just yet.

“I don’t know if we’re peaking, but we’re playing OK,” Calcote said. “I would love to think we were peaking at this time of the year, but we could be better in some spots. Ask me next week if we’re peaking after these playoff games.”

Leading the team in hitting this season, according to Max Preps, is DaMantre Collins with a .341 batting average. Collins was one single shy of hitting for the cycle last week, and though he’s only a sophomore, Collins feels pressure to be a standout on the team. That, of course, stems from being the brother of Ole Miss defensive back Dehendret Collins and cousin to Super Bowl-winning New England Patriot linebacker Jamie Collins.

“It’s pressure because you have big expectations from your family, but I just try to stay humble,” Collins said.

Staying humble and focused is the exactly what Calcote expects his team to do at 6 p.m. tonight when the Bulldogs host McLaurin in the MHSAA Class 3A South State Plaoyffs. Calcote said McLaurin has two quality pitchers, so timely hitting will be key.

Aware of what challenges faced them, seniors Bernard Selmon and Ethan Verdin said they’re going to have to make McLaurin pitchers work and throw the fastball. Or as Quin simplified it, Franklin County has to “put the foot down, hit the fastball” to advance in the playoffs.