Mark Hysaw knows what the older player in the Columbus High School baseball program can do.
Hysaw has coached rising seniors Avery Ford, Tyji Hawkins, and Josh Tentoni as they have moved through their middle school years into the twilight of their high school careers.
That”s why Hysaw is excited to see what those players can do in their final go-around with the Falcons.
Ford and his teammates continued their strong showing Thursday night with 16-6 and 14-4 five-inning victories against Starkville in Dizzy Dean action at Sammy Fletcher Field in Columbus.
Ford had four hits and four RBIs in the doubleheader to help Columbus improve to 8-0.
“At the end of last season we as a team stuck together and made a pact that we were going to change the perception of Columbus baseball and play harder and do the little things that our coaches have preached to us,” Ford said. “We just want to be remembered at Columbus High.”
Hawkins (double), Nick Durrah (home run, five RBIs), Tyler Mason (two RBIs), and Aurby Burdine (double, four RBIs) all had three hits in the doubleheader for Columbus, which won despite committing nine errors.
Ford, who plays shortstop and third base, said there have been a lot of “woulda, coulda, shouldas” in the past few years and plenty of disappointments. He said he hopes his positive influence, along with the leadership of the other seniors on the team, can help Columbus change its ways.
The Falcons might not be seeing opponents in the Dizzy Dean season with full rosters or facing pitching that will be as tough as they will see in Class 6A next year, but Ford believes this is as good a time as any to develop winning habits.
“We all look at it as a machine,” Ford said. “We”re happy the machine is working, but we still have to improve to make the machine work a little better.
“We see our potential and what we can do as individuals and as a team. We always strive for excellence. That should be our goal: To strive for excellence and be the best that we can be.”
Hysaw, who is an assistant coach with Columbus High”s varsity baseball team, coached the Dizzy Dean team Thursday without coach Jeff Cook, who left Thursday to travel to Oklahoma with the state of Mississippi”s Junior Sunbelt team.
The victories moved Hysaw”s coaching record to 4-0 or 6-0 (he wasn”t sure), but he said the players, who continue to work hard and improve, deserve all of the credit.
“They”re playing a lot better baseball together,” Hysaw said. “If we can get them to play as loose as they do in the regular season as they do in the summer, they have fun.”
Hysaw said the upcoming senior class means a lot to him because he knows how much time the players have invested. He said he hopes the work they do in the summer carries over the 2010 high school season because he wants to see them help reverse the fortunes of a program that hasn”t been the playoffs in the past three seasons.
“You have to learn how to win, too,” Hysaw said. “That”s what we”re trying to teach them. The whole key to the summer is putting the kids in situations they normally don”t get to be in. I think our kids have responded pretty well this summer. Hopefully, we”re building for something for the regular season next year.”
Hayden Higginbotham and Cody Berryhill had doubles and RBIs for Starkville in game one. Starkville made five errors and walked 11. Blake Dawkins and Wesley Montgomery also had RBIs.
Montgomery had a two-run triple in the fourth inning of game two. Colby Runnels also had an RBI.
Cotton States Baseball League
n Golden Triangle Jets 18, Tallahatchie Rascals 10: At New Albany, The Jets (2-3) used an eight-run eighth inning to hand the Rascals (4-1) their first loss of the season.
Former Columbus High standout Dylan Anderson (2-for-4, run, two RBIs) had an RBI single in the uprising, which featured only three hits and two errors.
Evan Weibel (2-for-4) and Zach Tippitt (2-for-4) also had two-run hits in the inning.
Former New Hope High standout Ben Fleming also went 2-for-4 (RBI) and scored two runs for the Jets.
Former New Hope High standout Garrett Harris allowed 14 hits and eight earned runs in seven innings. He walked two and struck out eight.
Brent Hallmark, another former New Hope High player, struck out three in pitching two hitless innings to get the victory.
The Golden Triangle Jets, who are sponsored by GameTime Sports of Columbus, will play the Tupelo Thunder at 6 p.m. Saturday at Legion Field in New Albany.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.