For most of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoffs, New Hope High School had been looking for its offense.
Finally, the Trojans found some Friday night, scoring seven runs and collecting 11 base hits.
In the end it would still not be enough though as New Hope dropped a 9-7 decision to Grenada to see its season end with a two-game sweep in the third-round series.
“We battled all night,” New Hope senior catcher Will Godfrey said. “If nothing else this season, we learned that a group of Trojans will battle. Through all of the adversity and the doubts, we kept playing hard and we kept competing. It wasn’t meant to be but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. We gave it everything we had.”
After winning back-to-back state championships in 2013 and 2014, New Hope still made the North State championship game a season ago. The Trojans were within a whisker of getting back to that round.
“We had five seniors and they played such a huge role in our program,” New Hope coach Lee Boyd said. “They won a state championship. They helped will us to the North State finals last season. This is the type of program you want. Each year, the guys believe they can do it again. It doesn’t matter how good you are and how many players you need to replace, the mind-set is let’s go back and do it again.”
For New Hope, a postseason run looked improbable when it lost four of the last five regular-season games.
“Very few people thought we could do this,” Godfrey said. “It hurts now but in the end, this year will be very rewarding. We really went out playing our best and trying to prove a point. Nobody was going to take it from us without a fight.”
Grenada (25-3), who will meet Oxford this week for the North State title, needed all the fortune it could get Friday night. After winning the best-of-three series opener 2-0 Thursday night, things turned on a dime in this contest. New Hope (20-12) had actually been held to two runs in its last three playoff games combined.
“Even though the two games were different, they had so many similarities,” Boyd said. “Both nights we just kept battling. You are in a position there in the last couple of innings where you are one base hit away. We had stretches this year where we were one base hit away. It just seemed like we couldn’t find that key hit in this series.”
Grenada built an early 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Caleb Morgan.
New Hope got a run back in the home half of the inning when Godfrey doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Trojan starter Peyton Buckner was lifted after allowing three hits in the second inning. Carson Forrester entered there and gave his team a chance.
Grenada stretched the lead to 6-1, thanks in part to two walks and a hit batsman in a three-run third inning.
New Hope came right back with two-run doubles by Aidan Fletcher and Thomas Stevens.
Down 9-5 in the seventh inning, New Hope scored twice more and actually left two runners on base.
A deep fly ball to right field signaled the end of the game and the end of another strong run by the Trojans.
“There are so many memories from playing out here,” said Godfrey, who will play at Mississippi Delta Community College next season. “We had a lot of good wins and a lot of good times. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we had a great ride.”
n Heritage Academy baseball season ends: At Natchez, Brandon Jones had two doubles and two RBIs, and Logan Sneed pitched six strong innings Saturday, but the Heritage Academy baseball team lost to Cathedral 5-3 in Game 2 of the best-of-three Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff series.
The loss ended Heritage Academy’s season at 17-10.
Tyler Anderson had a hit, two walks, and a run scored, Thomas Cooper had an RBI and a run scored, and Ethan Loreno had a hit.
Sneed allowed only five hits and three earned runs. He walked six and struck out three.
n Hamilton softball season ends: At Smithville, Hamilton softball saw its run in the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs come to an end with a 9-3 loss to Smithville in the North State finals.
Smithville also won 4-0 Friday at Hamilton to sweep the series.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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