By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In a season of progress, Munford Skipper Scotty Yount knew his pitching would be fine in the Sub-State match-up with Corey “CSmooth” Simmons on the mound. Yount was pretty sure his defense would navigate the Munford Baseball Field well against the Dragons.
But the only question mark, offense, was put to rest early when the Cougars offense came out swing to put two runs on the scoreboard in the first inning.
Munford added 4 insurance runs in the fifth inning. Then the defense and Simmons shutdown the Collierville bats to win 6-0 and help Munford earn its first trip back to the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament since 2004.
“Unbelievable,” Yount said. “I knew if we had the heart. We had the talent. Throughout the year we just kept getting better and better and better and better. We just hit a stride and it was like we wouldn’t be denied. We set this goal. I never told anybody this and we kept it between ourselves. We set this goal in March. The goal was to get to Murfreesboro. And we did it man. We did it and in my first year.”
The road to Sub-State was paved with the Cougars taking second in the District 13-3A Baseball Tournament. Then Monday came with Munford pulling off an upset on the road at Arlington 2-1.
That set up a rematch with the District 13-3A champions Dyer County Choctaws. In extra inning, the Cougars came back from Wednesday’s showdown 6-5 victors.
The Regional championship earned Munford home game against the Region 8-3A runner up Dragons.
“We’ve really focused on our approach at the plate starting before the district tournament,” Yount recalled. “I never thought during the year we were where we needed to be at the plate. On the mound, we learned throughout the year we had the arms to do what we wanted to do. We learned we had the defense behind the arms.
“We never were at the plate the way we needed to be,” he continued. “I shuffled the lineup a little bit. We really went to work on approach at the plate and executing. Today was the best they’ve ever been. We had good approaches at the plate all day.”
One Cougar exemplifying a better approach all week had been senior Garrett Baugh. When Baugh stroked a double in the fifth inning against Collierville he drove in a pair of runners to make the score 4-0. That hit made Baugh 6 of 10 for the week with 8 RBIs.
“It’s been a long time,” Baugh said. “The off-season we were working. During the season our record was like near .500. We just kept putting in work and staying focus on our goal and that’s State baby. We just been putting the bat on the ball and we were locked in tonight.”
Teammate Steven Kendricks followed with a double of his own to bring home two more Cougars and make the score 6-0.
Munford stood six outs away from earning a spot in Murfreesboro in next week’s State Tournament. All game Simmons had neutralized the Dragons’ bat.
“I just tried to do my best, keep the ball in the field because I know my defense would be behind me doing work,” Simmons said. “I was completely confident that I could do it. I didn’t want anybody else with the ball in their hands besides me. I was very confident I could get the job done.”
Simmons, a part of the 12-man senior class, recorded the final six outs with strikeouts, fly-balls and finally a ground-ball to Kendricks at third. Once Brennan Hollie secured the ball in his glove at first, the celebration broke out for the Cougar faithful.
“This feels great,” Baugh said. “I think some of us bought into it but not all of us. But starting district tournament I think we all started buying into it. Coach has always had our backs and believed in us. He’s always got our back and I’m thankful for that.”
Simmons said Yount’s faith in the senior class and the developing underclassmen kept them moving forward all season.
“We bought into it,” he said. “Everybody else doubted us all year. We just wanted to show them a little something. It feels amazing. It hasn’t been done in 13 years. It just feels amazing to be a part of it.”
Yount said he feels fortunate to be a Cougar in 2017.
“I’m blessed to have had this group and be around this group,” he concluded. “For me to be a part of it is really special. They believed in the system and it just got better and better throughout the year. We hit our stride and we’re going to Murfreesboro. We’re going to Murfreesboro.”