Arch-rivals play for spot in 2A State Championship Series

By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress-Times

Webster World SeriesWelcome to the Webster County World Series.

It always matters when Eupora High School and East Webster High School square off in athletic competition, but this weekend’s three-game series between the Eagles and Wolverines carry stakes that are even higher than usual.
The winner will be the MHSAA Class 2A North State Baseball Champion and will earn the right to play at Trustmark Park in Pearl next week for the state championship. It just doesn’t get much bigger than that.
“It’s a big deal,” said East Webster head baseball coach Wes Johnson. “There should be big crowds. It will be a great atmosphere.”
“It is going to be huge for this county,” said Eupora head baseball coach Brad Mitchell.  “There won’t be any empty seats in the house. If they are from Webster County and aren’t at the game, then I don’t know where they would be.”
The two teams took somewhat different routes to get to the North State title series that begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at East Webster. The Wolverines rolled to the region title and earned a first-round bye, before beating East Union in three games in the second round of the playoffs and then sweeping Mantachie 7-6, 4-0 in the third round.
Eupora, which finished third in the region, mowed down Hollandale Simmons 19-2, 1-0 in the opening round, then beat Strayhorn 4-0, 3-2, before winning a wild three-game series with Baldwyn that didn’t conclude until Tuesday night.
Now the Eagles will have to regroup quickly to get set for the North State series that begins today (Thursday).
“Our pitchers are just going to have to push through it and I believe they will,” Mitchell said. “Late in the season we have really been battling and have shown a lot of determination.”
Johnson says his team has been playing fairly well as of late, but knows Eupora will be a tough challenge and he puts very little stock in the fact that his Wolverines swept the regular season series between the two schools.  East Webster won 8-2 on April 28 and 7-5 on April 1.
“This is not even the same Eupora team,” Johnson said. “They have really improved and you can see it in the way they are playing. It’s going to be a challenge. Every pitch, every play, is going to matter. That is what it’s all about.”
Although he has no real mathematical reason to think so, Mitchell has an idea how the series will play out.
“I expect it to be an offensive series,” he said. “I don’t have any rhyme or reason for that, it’s just what my gut tells me.”
The second game of the series is set for 1 p.m. in Eupora on Friday, with the third game, if necessary, set for East Webster at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The winner of the series will take on the Taylorsville-Enterprise winner in the MHSAA Class 2A State Baseball Championship Series. The first game is set for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21 at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The second game would be played at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 22. A third game, if needed, would be played sometime on Saturday, May 24. That determination would be made after all the series in all six classifications have played two games to determine how many third games are needed.