McKenzie mired in two-game slid following spring break

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A strong pitching staff kept the McKenzie Tigers struggling at bat Monday as the Tigers dropped consecutive games to Highland Home and J.U. Blacksher.

A strong pitching staff kept the McKenzie Tigers struggling at bat Monday as the Tigers dropped consecutive games to Highland Home and J.U. Blacksher.

The McKenzie Tigers varsity baseball team received a rude awakening Monday from spring break at the hands of two tough visiting teams in Highland Home and J.U. Blacksher.

The opponents dealt the Tigers a pair of losses from Highland and Blacksher, 13-1 and 20-0 respectively, as McKenzie’s defenses struggled Monday afternoon to deal with the two powerhouse offenses.

McKenzie head baseball coach Tony Norris said that the pair of tough matchups did what they were intended to do—wake up the Tigers from a rust-inducing week of spring break.

“We were in a little lull that game coming off of spring break,” Norris said.

“Highland Home will play for either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in their area at the end of this week, and J.U. Blacksher is a good team that went to the third round of the playoffs last year, and they’ve got most of their guys back.

“That’s another stiff competition that we’re playing to try to get back into shape.  I wanted our kids to get away for a little while and enjoy spring break, so we’re just trying to play our way back into shape.”

Though Monday’s games were against non-area opponents, the stakes remain just as high for a McKenzie team on the verge of playoff contention.

“Right now, we’re 0-2 in our area,” Norris said.

“We play our next area game next Tuesday with Red Level.  If we can win the series with Red Level, we should hopefully finish second in the area.  I think Pleasant Home, who is in our area, and Red Level play [Tuesday] and Thursday, so it depends on what happens there, too.

“Maybe it’s one of those things were if Red Level beats Pleasant Home two out of three games and we turn around and beat Red Level two out of three, it could possibly be a three-way tie in the area.    We’re just focused on trying to get a little better this week before next week hits.”

Monday’s games also shone a bright light on one of the Tigers’ most glaring weaknesses.

“The biggest thing is that we’ve got to get a little bit better at the plate, and get better on defense,” Norris said.

“Pitching hasn’t been too bad earlier in the year.  Yesterday, we were kind of rusty, so I expected that.  But we’ve got to get a little more committed at the plate.”

The Tigers will host the neighboring Georgiana Panthers Thursday before squaring off with their final area opponent in a pair of games with Red Level next week.