Winners of last 11, Sumrall red hot entering 4A playoffsBy CAMAL PETRO,
The Sumrall Bobcats ended the regular season with only one loss to a Mississippi team, posting a 24-3 overall record entering the 4A playoffs.
Their first-round opponent will be Pass High (8-17), and Sumrall will host Game 1 Friday night at 7 p.m. followed by Game 2 in Pass Christian Saturday at 3 p.m. If necessary, the two will be in Sumrall at 7 p.m. Monday for Game 3.
Sumrall started the season 7-0 before losing back-to-back games to out-of-state opponents at a Perfect Game tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Then it won six straight regular-season games before the next loss, and an 11-game streak capped off the regular season.
It’s easy to see why the Bobcats have been so dominant, too. Offensively, they’ve mashed 26 home runs, successfully stolen 66 out of 67 bases and the pitching staff has had three no-hitters including a perfect game.
“Woah, that’s a tough question,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said when asked which statistic was more impressive. “Certainly the home runs are big because I don’t know if we’ve ever had that many on a team. All three of those are up there.”
Seniors Halen Sanford, Billy Garrity and Hunter Barrett all have pitched no-hitters this season, and they make up three-fourths of what could be the deepest starting rotation in the state. Sophomore Kros Sively leads the four starters with a 1.25 earned run average, though, but Barrett (1.44), Sanford (1.62) and Garrity (1.81) all have sub-2.00 ERAs.
“Talking about it and thinking about it, there are a lot of options,” Knight said of his starting rotation in the playoffs. “I think the luxury of it now, if (John Cody Stogner) comes in Game 1 and goes over that pitch count, we have Billy who can come in for Game 2.”
However, Knight plans to use his four starters; he still has plenty of arms in the bullpen. Junior Stogner has logged 21 innings with a 0.33 ERA, Hayden Nored hasn’t allowed a run in five innings of work and senior Stone Robinson pitched well against Gulfport on Tuesday.
Offensively, senior Zane Berry is crushing at the plate with a .444 batting average, and senior Graham Crawford (.364), Garrity (.353), senior Dannis Jackson (.337) and Barrett (.329) help lead the potent offense. Jackson also has 21 stolen bases.
The Bobcats have a tradition of winning championships, but since they’ve moved up to 4A four years ago, they’ve fallen short in the postseason. This senior class has been fixtures on the roster for the last three or four years. In fact, this is Sumrall’s largest senior class since the 2011 state championship. That Bobcat team went 30-5 overall, sweeping their way to the 3A title.
“A lot of (the seniors) have been a part of 92 wins the past three years,” Knight said. “Some of them probably didn’t play as big of a role as they have now, but they’ve contributed in some shape, form or fashion. It’s a special group. This group just has a lot of fun. They’re as loose as they can be, they believe they can beat anybody and it’s just one of those rare groups.”