The Wildcats of Independence High School hit the trail to Belzoni Wednesday night to face the Humphreys County Cowboys in the opening round of the Mississippi 3A State Play-offs. The Wildcats were the visiting team in game one of the best of three series. This would offer no immediate advantage however as they were held scoreless in the first.
Coach Edwards started his ace, Jayden Watkins on the mound and he and the Wildcat fielders held the Cowboys scoreless until the bottom of the third when they were able to push 2 runs across the plate to draw closer to the 3-2 leading Wildcats. Neither team scored in the fourth but the Cats exploded in the top of the fifth with 10 runs putting the game out of reach for the Cowboys 13-2.
The Wildcats scored 13 runs on 12 hits and 1 Humphreys County error. The Cowboys scored 2 runs on 3 hits. Watkins pitched 5 innings for the Wildcats allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, and 0 walks while striking out 9 Cowboys.
Seven Wildcats picked up hits off the Cowboy pitching staff led by Rex “Butch” Bryant who went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s. Seventh grader Niles Blackmon was 2 for 3 with 4 RBI’s and Bryson Davis was 2 for 3 while scoring twice. First baseman Scott McFarlin has been the designated hitter for the Wildcats in the series and he scored 2 runs while proving 2 hits in as many at bats. Parker Hardison and Jayden Watkins both went 1 for 2. Overall, it was a solid offensive outing for the Cats as they amassed 13 runs on 12 hits and 7 walks.
Game 2 in the series would be played at Independence Park in Coldwater on Friday. Sophomore, Landyn Lindsey would get the nod for Coach Edwards’ Wildcats going 4 innings while giving up 2 runs on hits and 3 walks. In the top of the first, the Cowboys lead-off man singled to left field and then scored on a Wildcat error to take a 1-0 lead. The lead would be short lived however, as the Wildcats wasted little time in going to work in their half of the first. Lead-off hitter Ethan Kile took a walk to give the Cats a runner on first with Jayden Watkins at the plate. Watkins reached first on an error by the catcher. The Cowboys walked Bryson Davis to make the bases loaded and Butch Bryant brought in 2 runs on a sacrifice to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Watkins would score the innings final run on a catcher’s error at the plate and the second inning began with the Cats leading 3-1.
The Cowboys would score their final run of the game in the top of the second to make it 3-2. Independence scored 7 runs in their half of the second to pull away from Humphreys County 10-2. The Wildcat lead grew wider when they scored 5 in the bottom of the third to give the game what would be its final score 15-2.
The Wildcats garnered 15 runs on 11 hits and 8 walks. Jayden Watkins went 2 for 2 with 2 RBI’s, seventh grade sensation Niles Blackmon continues to produce at the plate going .3 for 2 with 2 RBI’s, and Parker Hardison was 2 for 3. Scott McFarlin was 1 for 1 with 2 RBI’s for the Wildcats.
With back to back wins the Wildcats (12-13, 6-5) advance to face the Nettleton Tigers in the second round of the 3A state play-offs. Nettleton has a 18-9 overall record with an 8-2 record in 3A region 1.