Something has to give when St. Stanislaus faces Amory in the Class 3A state championship series this week beginning Tuesday afternoon at Trustmark Park in Pearl. After all, neither the Rock-A-Chaws of defending state champion Panthers have lost a playoff game this season as each has swept four best-of-three postseason series’ apiece.
But each has gone about it in differing fashions, as SSC has played half of their eight playoff games at home. While Amory hasn’t played an actual home game since a destructive tornado destroyed the Panther’s home field in mid-season.
Amory beat Center Hill in what would be its final home game this season on March 23, even if the Panthers didn’t know it at the time. The tornado hit the following night, and Amory wouldn’t take the field again until a road game against Saltillo on April 1.
The Panthers have had to bounce around a bit for the rest of the season using a few different venues for home games, and they used Hamilton High’s field as their home ballpark in the Class 3A North State finals.
But now, some two months after the twister wiped out their field, Amory knows where its home will be for their final games of the season just like it was last season when the Panthers swept past Seminary in fine fashion 9-1 and 11-1 to take their third state championship on the diamond in program history and first in 23 years since 1999.
The Panthers, who won the Region 1-3A title, also have the most wins of any of the 12 teams in the six classifications fighting for a state championship this week as Amory stands an impressive 31-4 on the season and the Panthers have won 14 consecutive state playoff games and 16 of their last 17 postseason contests.
St. Stanislaus is looking for not only its third state baseball crown in school history but its third in the past 13 seasons as well after taking the title in 2010 and 2015. The Rocks are 21-12 overall and finished as the second seed in Region 8-3A in the regular season but have caught fire in the playoffs.
Each team has several senior standouts that will play on the next level, led by SSC southpaw pitcher/outfielder Seth Farni who is an Ole Miss signee. Also for the Rocks, pitcher/infielder Hugh LeMasters is an East Mississippi Community College signee while another EMCC signee is infielder/pitcher Hill Gainey for the Rocks and outfielder Kyle Stegall is a Pearl River CC signee. Juniors Chesley Rhodes and Jeremy Mares have enjoyed successful seasons for SSC as well.
The Panthers are guided by a trio of Itawamba Community College signees, in pitcher/infielder Bryce Glenn, infielder Jack Clayton and pitcher/infielder Tyler Sledge. Other senior signees for Amory are pitcher/infielder Corbin Gillentine who is headed to Meridian CC and catcher Walker Maranto a Northwest CC signee.
Head coach Brad Corley’s Rocks have swept McLaurin (10-0, 13-3), Enterprise-Clark (13-3, 2-1), defending Class 3A South State champ Seminary (9-0, 9-2) and Clarkdale (5-1, 8-5) in th South State finals to get to the title round.
Head Coach Chris Pace’s Panthers have eliminated Rosa Fort(16-0, 15-0), Booneville (6-5, 19-5), Water Valley 2-0 (17-2, 8-2) and Kossuth in the North State finals (7-6, 7-2).
This is a rematch of the 2010 Class 4A state finals in which SSC swept Amory 5-4 and 6-0.