Not much else need be said when the Tupelo Golden Wave and the Madison Central Jaguars are pitted against each other in sports. That certainly applies to baseball, where Tupelo-Madison Central matchups have produced some memorable series.
But how about the regular season?
As a player and a coach, Gary Enis can not remember Madison Central on the regular season schedule for Tupelo. Until Saturday, when the Wave travel to the Jackson area for a pair of games that includes a noon pairing against the Jaguars. “It’s become a good rivalry,” said Enis, the Tupelo head coach. “It will be good to see how we match up with them.”
“I’m glad we’re playing them,” Tupelo senior Luke Weeden said. “This way we won’t be surprised when we play them in the playoffs.”
Tupelo, which was ranked No. 10 in the state this week by the Clarion Ledger, will be entering Saturday’s game off a disappointing 6-5 loss in eight innings Thursday to Divison 2-6A foe Grenada. Tupelo, now 10-3 overall, fell to 3-1 in division play, but is still in first place in league play. Within the timeframe of Thursday’s Grenada game, and Tuesday’s Hernando game, the Tupelo pitching staff might be stressed to varying degrees Saturday. Hudson Roy pitched Thursday. Luke Weeden pitched Thursday and Tuesday. And Carter Clayton should pitch Tuesday.
Who will pitch Saturday?
Sophomores Drew Hurst and Jason Garrett seem likely for Tupelo’s two games Saturday. Senior Ty Wheeler could be in the mix, as could juniors Garrett Hill or Graham Taylor.
“We’ve been fortunate that most of guys have pitched complete games,” Enis said. “We’re going to have to have some guys step up. We don’t have an idea who will start the two games Saturday.”
The last time Tupelo and Madison Central (5-6) matched up in baseball was 2011 in the semifinals of the Class 6A playoffs. That was a series Tupelo won in three games, advancing the Wave to the championship series against Petal.
“Madison Central is a big rival of ours in 6A,” said senior Michael Ray, who played against the Jaguars in November in the 6A football playoffs. We get our bats going, it would be a big victory for us. Plus we always seem to play better against them.
“I think the Madison Central game on all our players minds is Game 3 from 2011 when William Goss threw out a runner at the plate to end the game,” said Enis, a game Tupelo won 5-4, and the current Wave seniors were only freshmen at the time.
“It is good to get a series going with Madison Central.”
The last weekend of the regular season, Madison Central will visit Tupelo for an April 18 game versus the Wave. Then on April 19, Madison Central stays in Tupelo, with the Wave and Jaguars each playing the No. 1 team in the state DeSoto Central.
Not to overlook the back end of the Wave’s Saturday doubleheader in the Jackson area. After the Madison Central noon contest, Tupelo will play Class 5 Ridgeland at 4 p.m. Ridgeland (4-7) won the 2011 5A state championship. Then to complete this four game test over six days, the Wave will host Hernando (9-7, 2-1) Tuesday at 6 p.m.