Taylorsville, MS (WDAM) - Taylorsville baseball is accustomed to winning. The Tartars appeared in five straight class 2A state title games from 2011-2015, taking home three state championship trophies during that span.
All of those Taylorsville teams had one particular ingredient in common: experience on the big stage.
"We usually have a lot of senior-laden teams," said ninth-year Taylorsville head coach Dusty Hillman. "It's our guys in the upper classes that have always led us and this year it's all been on one senior to kind of be that guy when it's a lot of youth below him."
The lone Taylorsville senior is Tucker Boykin. A two-time state champion, Boykin's one of the few 2017 Tartars to have lifted a gold glove.
"It just puts the role of the leader on top of me," said Boykin, who's batting .253 this season. "Just do my thing and they'll follow."
A three-sport athlete, Boykin was WDAM's player of the week in 2015 for his nine-touchdown-pass performance on the football field.
Boykin's arm has proved potent on the mound for the Tartars as well. The senior is holds a team-best 8-3 record with 63 strikeouts in 2017.
"Tucker's been real big for us," Hillman said. "He's pitched a lot of big games the last two years for us and he's pitched well. When you put him in big situations, he's always pitched well. He's played well in the playoffs for us, he's pitched well in the playoffs for us. And that's big for that guy to step up and do good for us at times like this."
For Taylorsville to step back into a state championship game, the Tartars have to get past Madison St. Joe in the third round. For a young ball club, drawing on the experience of an ole veteran in Tucker Boykin can only help.
"Since an eighth grader, I've seen a lot of good talent come from here," Boykin said. "Well, this year's team is just so young. But from the beginning, we've grew and grew and now we've hit this stretch where we're playing good. So, I believe we can make a run at it."