High School Sports

Plenty of movement in latest Sun Herald Top 10 rankings

 D'Iberville's Andrew Bird pitches against Biloxi on March 4, 2016, at MGM Park in Biloxi. The Warriors went 3-0 last week with wins over Gulfport, Harrison Central and Vancleave.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD D'Iberville's Andrew Bird pitches against Biloxi on March 4, 2016, at MGM Park in Biloxi. The Warriors went 3-0 last week with wins over Gulfport, Harrison Central and Vancleave. SUN HERALD

There was plenty of shuffling in this week's Sun Herald Top 10 polls.

South Mississippi's baseball and softball teams had an interesting week on the diamond -- when the weather would allow it.

Hancock (6-3) and St. Stanislaus (5-4) both climbed into the baseball poll after being left out a week ago. The Hawks tied St. Patrick (6-1) at No. 7, while SSC edged up-and-comer Bay High (6-3) for the final spot.

George County (6-3) and Ocean Springs (7-2) stayed atop the poll at 1 and 2 respectively. No. 3 Harrison Central (7-3) and No. 4 Gulfport (6-3) flipped spots. No. 5 D'Iberville (6-3) climbed two spots, while No. 6 West Harrison (6-2) slipped one spot as a result. No. 9 Biloxi (5-5) slipped three spots, with Pearl River Central (6-4) and Vancleave (4-5) falling out of the baseball rankings.

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The Warriors had perhaps the most impressive week of the Coast's baseball teams. D'Iberville edged Gulfport 3-2 and also beat Harrison Central 8-4 and Vancleave 6-4, earning victories against three ranked teams.

"That was a fun week of baseball," DHS coach Cragin Gilbert said. "It's just the kids buying in. They came out with a purpose in practice.

"... It's all just the team coming together. Staying humble and hungry, that's what we tell them."

Early on, D'Iberville wasn't getting consistent results, mixing wins and losses. Heading into this week, the Warriors are now riding a four-game winning streak.

The Warriors currently have six players hitting .294 or better, with senior Luther Woullard leading all regulars with a .360 batting average and two homers. He also has a team-high nine RBIs. Senior Andrew Bird is the team's unquestioned ace. In four starts, Bird is 2-1 with a 0.58 ERA, striking out 25 against 10 walks in 24 innings.

"You know what you're going to get from them every time they step on the field," Gilbert said. "We just turn them lose and let them go."

D'Iberville's home game against Biloxi has been moved up a day to Wednesday due to the possibility of rain. Varsity's first pitch is set for 7 p.m.

Softball rankings

PRC's softball team (6-2-1) is the lone newcomer this week, ranked ninth after a 3-0 week.

No. 1 St. Patrick (7-0), No. 2 Harrison Central (6-3) and No. 3 West Harrison (6-4) all stayed the same, as did No. 7 East Central (6-2-1) and No. 10 Picayune (5-4). No. 4 Poplarville (7-0) and No. 5 Hancock (7-2) both climbed two spots, with No. 6 St. Martin slipping below the Lady Hornets and Lady Hawks. No. 9 Biloxi (5-2-1) also climbed a spot, with Ocean Springs (5-5-1) falling out of the rankings. George County (5-5-1) received a vote.

The Lady Hawks have been one of the more consistent teams in South Mississippi this season. After starting the year 0-2, with losses to St. Patrick and Alma Bryant (Ala.), Hancock turned things around and rode a six-game winning streak into this week's Gulf Shores (Ala.) tournament.

"This group of girls just work together and get it done. Even when we were down 3-0 to Ocean Springs (last week) they came in the dugout and said, 'that's OK. We got this,'" HHS coach Bo Breland said of his team's 4-3 comeback win. "They don't get down. They keep their heads up. This is probably the most strong-willed team I have coached.

"They just keep fighting."

Kaylan Ladner is the unquestioned leader of the team despite being a sophomore. The Sun Herald's latest girls Player of the Week boasted a 5-1 overall recorded with a 0.75 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 32 innings. She threw a no-hitter against Donaldson Christian (Tenn.) on Monday in Gulf Shores' tournament. Rylee Swilley has been a big boost to the team's rotation this year. Splitting time with Ladner, Swilley has a 2-2 record with a 1.64 ERA to go along with 28 strikeouts in 22 innings.

"They're both throwing really well," Breland said. "Having a No. 2 come in there takes a lot of pressure off of Kaylan. It never hurts to have extra pitching."

Swilley also boasts a .370 batting average, only trailing Brooke Fagan's .423 clip on the team.

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