HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ Hattiesburg High School baseball coach Joe Hartfield usually is anything but all smiles after losing a game.
But with a chilly rain beginning to pelt Milton Wheeler Field Friday night on the William Carey University campus, Hartfield clearly had had a blast as a co-coach of the South 5A/6A club that faced the North in the 45th annual D.M. Howie Crossroad Diamond Club All-Star Game.
“This is actually the one time the scoreboard doesn’t matter,” Hartfield said after a four-run, eighth inning by the North led to its 5-2 decision over the South. “This is all about letting the players get out here and display their talents.
“It was fun, fun getting to know some of the guys I’ve competed against over the years and some of the guys who I’ve heard about but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see them play. Just a great group of guys, and every guy in that dugout has signed to play baseball somewhere next year.”
One of those was West Jones High School pitcher/infielder Dustin Dickerson, a University of Southern Mississippi signee who said the all-star game provided a chance to mingle with some of the best high school talent in Mississippi.
“There were a lot of good guys on these teams, which is what you expect when the best in the state get together, so, of course, it was fun,” Dickerson said. “And that’s what Coach Hartfield and (Wayne County High School) Coach (Ian) Sharpe told us, don’t press, have fun and represent your team well in your last time wearing the jersey.”
“I just got chills just thinking about it right there. I’ve tried to keep it out of my head because I love West Jones and I’ve put everything I had into that program<” Dickerson said. “But the last time I got to wear this was at State and then I get to wear this at the all-star game.
“Now, it’s time for Southern Miss.”
Friday’s game was the first of three showcases that will pit South all-star squads against those from the North. The Class 1A/2A showdown will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, with 3A/4A following at 1 p.m.
Friday night, the North led 1-0 for six innings after scoring a run on passed ball in the first inning.
But in the bottom of the seventh inning, South Jones High School’s’ Tyler Ducksworth and West Harrison High School’s Taylor Woodcock both walked and came around to score a series of a wild pitches to put the South ahead 2-1.
The North immediately rallied, fortifying a four-run uprising with consecutive singles by Bridley Thomas (Northwest Rankin High School), Caleb Sterling (Warren Central High School) and Blaine Ware (South Panola High School).
Ware was named the North’s Valuable Player, while Germantown High School’s Bryson Ware was named Best Offensive Player and Saltillo High School’s Bryce Capobianco was the game’s Best Defensive Player.
George County High School catcher Logan Tanner was named the South’s Valuable Player.