By JOEL McNEECE
The Bruce Trojans, 18-4, will open the Class 2A playoffs Friday, April 30 at Strayhorn at 4 p.m.
The best-of-three series will return to Bruce Saturday at 1 p.m. If a game three is necessary, it will be played in Bruce Monday night.
This is the third straight season for the Trojan baseball program to make the post season. Two years ago they were eliminated in the first round and last year they were knocked out in the second round.
“Some of my goals for us this year was a 20-win season and to go deeper into the playoffs,” coach Sid Burt said. “Of course you would like to win state every year, but I’d really like to at least get to the third round to show progress.”
Advancing past Strayhorn in the first round of the playoffs would give Coach Burt his 20 win season. But he said his team has received some criticism regarding the strength of the 18 wins thus far.
“We beat Ingomar who won their division. We beat Eupora who won their division. We beat TCPS who won their division. We beat North Pontotoc, Hatley, and East Webster who are all always good,” Coach Burt said. “I think we have played good teams.”
The Trojans’ Senior night was rained out, but Coach Burt said he has a lot of pride in his three seniors.
“Caleb Hanley has started every game for us the last four years,” Coach Burt said. “He’s been one of our best pitchers and most consistent players overall.”
Tim Mathis has been a starter for the Trojans in the outfield and has been among those adding great depth to the team this year, Burt said.
“Cameron Allen is probably the best teammate we have out here,” Coach Burt said. “We’ll miss his example and leadership.”
Coach Burt said he hopes his three seniors have a lot more baseball in them this season. Entering the playoffs he said his team’s defense is one of the Trojans’ biggest strengths.
“It didn’t look like it in our last game against Hamilton, but our defense has been solid all season and we hit the ball a lot better this year than we did last season,” Burt said. “As long as our pitchers throw strikes, I feel like we’ll make plenty of plays behind them.”
The playoff bracket has Ackerman, Mantachie and Hamilton on the opposite side of the draw from the Trojans, meaning they couldn’t see any of them until North Half.
Bruce is looking at a potential second round matchup against Eupora or Baldwyn.
“Eupora has a solid team but we know we can play with them,” Coach Burt said. “Baldwyn knocked us out two years ago so we would love to play them again.”
“All the competition is tough at this point,” Coach Burt said. “You’ve got to come ready to play every game. We’re excited to get started.”
Photo of Caleb Hanley by Steve Gulledge – www.stevegulledgephotography.com