HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Tigers did not leave Trustmark Park as the 5A State Champions; however, they accomplished something just as special. Coach Joe Hartfield and his 2016 squad put Hattiesburg baseball back on the map.
"They got this program up to a level that it hasn't been at in a long time," Hartfield said. "My gratitude towards them is unbelievably strong and we just really appreciate their effort."
Senior first baseman CJ Anderson said, "We fell short, but we made it. We shocked the state that said we couldn't get here and we made it."
A decade passed since the last championship baseball team at Hattiesburg High School. Even though this group of seniors didn't get to hang a championship banner, Coach Hartfield said they will never be forgotten.
"This is the best group of seniors I've had since I've been at Hattiesburg," Hartfield said. "Tremendous young men and they're certainly ready to go on to the next branch of life and they served as a great example."
Anderson reminisces on his favorite memories from this year. "After losing to Sumrall we came back on a 17 game winning streak. We won district, won South State, and there is no better feeling that to bring it back to Smokie Harrington."
Gone are the days when the Tigers could fly under the radar.
"We'll be the team that everyone is coming after; we'll be dodging bullets I'm sure," Hartfield said.
With a second place trophy staring them down, the Tigers have every motivation to get back to the Championship game.
"We want to get back here next year and win this thing," Hartfield said.