Tornado can't slow Hattiesburg, Oak Grove baseball teams - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Tornado can't slow Hattiesburg, Oak Grove baseball teams

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Smokie Harrington Park's scoreboard was left almost shredded by the tornado. Smokie Harrington Park's scoreboard was left almost shredded by the tornado.
Almost nothing remained of Oak Grove's baseball field but a pile of rubble that was once the stands, press box and front entrance. Almost nothing remained of Oak Grove's baseball field but a pile of rubble that was once the stands, press box and front entrance.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

It's not exactly the season any player, but particularly a senior might envision. A little over a week before the start of the 2013 high school baseball season in the Pine Belt began...came February 10. A powerful EF4 tornado ripped through Oak Grove, Hattiesburg and Petal, and suddenly the Tigers and Warriors were left without a home field.

The tornado left Oak Grove's stadium, it's hitting facility and football field house all but completely destroyed. Over in Hattiesburg, historic Smokie Harrington Park took significant damage. Both teams were forced to practice either at another location or on their school's football fields, and had to play home games at USM's Pete Taylor Park or William Carey University's Milton Wheeler Field. 

"I think it's certainly a life-lesson for our guys; to see the strength that mother nature can have on a particular area," said Hattiesburg head baseball coach Joe Hartfield. Not even mother nature's destructive power deterred each team from having successful seasons thus far.

With only a few games left in the regular season, the Warriors have locked up region 5-6A title, while the Tigers are postseason-bound for the third straight year. "It means a lot," said Hartfield, "We still feel bad for our seniors, that they didn't get to play any home games this year. But it's quite an accomplishment."

Oak Grove head coach Chris McCardle, who's team will try to defend it's 6A state crown, agrees with those sentiments. "A lot of people don't realize, we have to load up on the bus and go somewhere," he said, "We don't have the home feeling of going to our own park, and having our fans and our students there in there usual spots.

"We're definitely excited about it and proud that we could accomplish that."

While neither team has enjoyed the same roars from their usual home crowds, the communities for both Hattiesburg and Oak Grove have still supported their teams by showing up to both Pete Taylor and Milton Wheeler; something the players take to heart.

"Just having fans behind you is really good," said Hattiesburg senior first baseman Ben Waddle, "They could just pack up and not come watch because it's not here, but they're still coming and we're still playing for them."

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