In his 41 years as head baseball coach at West Lauderdale, Jerry Boatner's teams have won twelve state championships, but his current crop of seniors -one that includes six future college baseball players- doesn't have one.
"If we go all our high school years and never win one, then I'd be very disappointed,” said third baseman Colton McKeithen. “I definitely think we can do it, and we should do it."
Boatner says McKeithen has been a vocal leader as the Knights prepare for their state championship series with Purvis. He also says his team will continue to bunt as much as possible."
"I love that 'small ball.' It puts pressure on the defense,” said Boatner. “It's aggravating, and it demoralizes them when you score a run and don't even hit a ball out of the infield."
Despite being known for promoting “small ball,” Boatner says it's pitching that makes him confident the Knights will bring him title number 13.
"Three great pitchers: Will stokes, Ryan Lane and Mason Wooldridge. I just don't believe they're going to be able to hit our pitching."
Stokes, a future Ole Miss Rebel will get the start in game one.
"[I’m] probably going to be pretty nervous,” said Stokes. “It's a major league field, and it's something I've never played on, so probably so, but it'll be alright."
Both Boatner and his players agree that eadership and experience won't be a problem when the series begins.
"Coach Boatner... he's been there plenty of times,” said Stokes. “He's got experience there, so I'm pretty confident about that."
"I'm not afraid to talk [or] tell people what to do. When other people don't do it, I'm not afraid to step up,” said McKeithen. “Somebody's got to do it… to get people pumped. Sometimes I get a little too pumped, and I don't think other people are at the right level, so I kinda get over-excited. But I just try to do my best to get everybody motivated.