What?: 2nd Round of the 5A Playoffs - Best-of-3 Series
Where?: Edwin Moak Field @ OHS (Game 1 & - if necessary - Game 3) & Starkville High School (Game 2)
When?: Game 1: Tuesday April 30th @ 6:00, Game 2: Thursday May 2nd @ 6:00, Game 3: Saturday May 4th @ 6:00 (if necessary)
How can you keep up?: Bullseye 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Baseball iScore Gamecast at this -> LINK <- (click on respective Oxford/Starkville Game with correct corresponding date of game to watch),
Probable starting rotation: Oxford - Jr. Hunter Roth (7-1, 1.42 ERA), Fr. Jason Barber (5-2, 2.28), Sr. Steven Whitfield (3-2, 2.75). Starkville: Jr. Tanner Clayton (6-4, 3.50), Jr. Tanner Jones (5-0, 1.12), Sr. Max Bartlett (3-2, 1.63)
The lowdown: It seems like it took forever for the playoffs to get here after Oxford clinched the 1-seed back on April 12th. The challenge was to stay as dominant as they were after that game for the next two weeks.
For the most part, considered that accomplished.
Oxford has had two excellent defensive games while Starkville was fending off Provine to reach this series against Tupelo and against Amory to charge themselves up for the playoffs.
These two teams met once earlier this season in Tupelo during a "Tri-Match" (for lack of a better term) of sorts with the Golden Wave in a 3-game set. Oxford defeated Starkville 5-2 but I would not put much stock into that. Oxford used Tyler Hallam who got his only decision of the season in that game and Starkville used 5 different pitchers - except for the last pitcher, none of which normally start or come in relief for the Yellowjackets. The game was played at the end of Spring Break after both teams used most of their pitching prior to that.
While Oxford did win that game, they only managed two hits. Obviously a lot has changed since then. William Elliott was also not in the lineup for that game after he suffered a facial injury in the game right before Starkville (in the other Tri-Match game against Tupelo) and had to miss it. This game was also during a lull the Chargers were in. They could not hit for much and seemingly kicked the ball around every other inning.
The Chargers also saw Starkville at home during the aforementioned Spring Break during the Oxford Spring Break Tournament against Southaven (a loss 12-5) and Lake Cormorant (a win 3-2). Although Oxford only saw one of their probable three starters in Tanner Jones (against Lake Cormorant).
On paper, Oxford should win Game 1 easily just by looking at the probable Game 1 starters. Game 2 at Starkville could be a lot closer with a pitcher that has a low ERA and a perfect 5-0 mark. If Game 3 should occur, that will be back in Oxford and looks to be a good one. But let's not get that through our heads. We play the game for a reason; it is not automatic. On paper, Oxford has slightly better stats across the board than Starkville - but the schedule each team played are completely different.
For Oxford to win this series, they must: Play Error-free Defense - It's no secret in baseball that you cannot give extra outs and let a team hang around. In Oxford's 6 losses, each game except against New Hope (which had 2) has had at least 3 errors. In three of those, 5 or more errors. The pitching has been doing fine all season, the defense must make plays like they have throughout region play and in the last two games leading up to this series. When the Chargers do that, you can put another W in the win column.
Timely hitting - has been there all year. Oxford's Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) is around 70 points higher than their team Batting Average. When Oxford gets on base, expect trouble to happen.
For Starkville to win this series, they must: Have the Starting Pitcher Last - After the three starters listed, they have hardly anything to back them up. The other two pitchers that have pitched more than 20 innings for Starkville are a combined 1-5 and have an ERA of 5+. Oxford will eat that up if the Chargers chase the starter off the mound, knowing they have to save one of the other two pitchers for Game 2.
When on base, cause havoc - Starkville has stolen 98 bases on the season - which is at a clip of 3 1/2 per game. 5 players have stolen double-digit bags. Look for the Yellowjackets to put things in motion when on the base paths.
Weather for Tuesday (in Oxford): Upper 70s dropping to the lower 70s throughout the game, Mostly Clear skies, Winds from SE @ 3-9 MPH (blowing out to Center Field)
Weather for Thursday (in Starkville): Upper 70s dropping to lower 70s, Cloudy (20% Chance of Rain), Winds from SE @ 5-10 MPH (blowing in from Center Field @ SHS)
Weather for Saturday (in Oxford): Mid 60s dropping to Upper 50s, Partly Cloudy, Winds from SW @ 8-12 MPH (crosswind from Left Field to Right Field)
Other Notes: Throughout the 2012-13 school year, the head-to-head winner of any playoff game/series between Oxford & Starkville has gone on to advance to North Half this season - Three to the State Championshp Game. (Football: Starkville won 5A, Tennis: Oxford currently in State Championship Match [Met in North Half Match], Boys Soccer: Oxford won 5A [met in the North Half Game], Girls Soccer: Starkville lost in North Half game to eventual 5A Champion Ridgeland). Oxford is 5-5 when committing at least 3 errors, 17-1 when committing 2 or less.
Directions to Starkville Baseball Field:
1 - Take Miss-6 / US-278 East (toward Pontotoc) (23 Miles)
2 - Turn right to Old Miss-6 (Miss-338 - toward West Pontotoc)
(6 1/2 Miles)
3 - Stay Straight at the 4-way Stop to Spur St. (To Miss-15/41) (1/4 Mile)
4 - Turn Right to Miss-15 South
(1 1/2 Miles)
5 - Stay Straight at 4-way Stop to Miss-41 South (toward Okolona)
6 - Turn left to Miss-32 East / Miss-41 South (1/3 Mile)
7 - Turn right to Miss-245 South (toward West Point) (5 Miles)
8 - Turn right to US-45 ALT South (31 Miles)
9 - Exit right to US-82/Miss-12 West / Miss-25 South (toward Starkviile)
10 - Exit right (3rd Exit) to Miss-12 West (toward MSU) (3 3/4 Miles)
11 - Turn left onto South Jackson St. (<1/4 Mile)
12 - Turn right onto Yellow Jacket Dr. (1/4 Mile)
Baseball Field is on the Left.
Total Miles: 104 Miles (from OHS)