Purvis set to play St. Stanislaus in first round

By CAMAL PETRO,

It’s not about how the Purvis Tornadoes spent most of the season with peaks and valleys, coach Tony Farlow said. It’s about how they’re playing entering the postseason, and the Tornadoes are coming off two solid wins over Poplarville and Lumberton to close out the regular season.

Purvis needed the win last week over Poplarville to help earn the No. 3 seed in the 4A playoffs, then the offense came alive against the Panthers on Monday.

“The win against Poplarville was huge for us,” Farlow said. “We didn’t play well down there, and honestly, we acted like we didn’t want to be there. That’s kind of difficult to understand because we were playing for second place. We came back, had a good team meeting and went back to work that Wednesday and Thursday. We were able to beat Poplarville, and it just seems like our team is loosening up right now.”

After Purvis won six straight games in March, it only posted three wins in 10 games prior to finishing the season with a pair of wins. It’ll try to keep the momentum against St. Stanislaus this weekend, though. Game 1 is Friday at 3 p.m. in Bay St. Louis, then Game 2 is 1 p.m. Saturday in Purvis. If necessary, Game 3 is set for 6 p.m. Monday at St. Stanislaus.

“(The season has had) a lot of ups and downs, and we just haven’t been consistent,” Farlow said. “I think we’ve pitched well this year, but our defense and bats have been up and down. If you get hot at the right time of the year, which is now, I don’t know if it matters if you’re first or fourth going into the playoffs. It’s how you play when you get into the playoffs.”

The Rock-a-Chaws enter the playoff series with a 20-5 overall record, finishing second in Region 8-4A behind East Central.

“Well, we put them out last year, and they were young.” Farlow said. “I know they have a pitcher signed with Pearl River. They’re also scrappy. They’re going to play good defense and they’re going to do the little things right.”

The Tornadoes are a solid all-around team, but they haven’t gotten the timely hits like they did last year. As a team, Purvis has a .278 batting average and a 3.08 team earned run average.  Junior Jesse Johnson leads the team entering the playoffs with a .448 average and four home runs, while senior Dawson Lawler, senior Mason Kendrick and sophomore Hunter Robinson are second, third and fourth, respectively, with .385, .378 and .342 averages.

Johnson has also logged the most innings with 44.2 frames pitched and a 2.19 ERA. Dakota Lee is second with 38.1 innings while recording a 3.83 ERA. Kendrick, however, has emerged with a 1.71 ERA in 28.2 innings, and Farlow could see the senior pitch significant innings against St. Stanislaus.

“(Kendrick) pitched really well against Poplarville Friday night,” Farlow said. “He’s going to be in that mix also. He’s kind of been our Saturday guy, and he had a big 1-0 win against Petal. The thing with MK is that he throws strikes. Some of our problem this year is consistently not throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys and getting 80-90 pitches in five innings.”

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