Nicholas Kennedy was hoping to make a quick first impression as head baseball coach at Delta Charter.
Kennedy arrived at Delta Charter from Vidalia last year, where he spent his first year ever as a head coach.
But when the Storm started out the season 2-7, Kennedy was seeking advice from his very first coach.
“I called my dad (Nic Kennedy) and he helped me through it,” Kennedy said. “He told me I was overthinking a lo of things. My coaching staff told me the same thing. It was tough. When things aren’t going the way you planned them coming into something you knew would be special, I started doubting myself. It was hard. People were saying, ‘You’re a young coach,’ and I really didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to win. And then things started falling into place and everything did turn around.”
Delta Charter would go on to win seven of its last nine regular season games.
The Storm defeated Forest 22-1 and Sicily Island 25-0 to begin the turnaround.
“I was happy for the kids,” Kennedy said. “They competed all year. When we started winning, the morale really picked up. That stretch we gained a lot of confidence and played really good baseball like I knew we could from the beginning.
The Storm defeated Lincoln Prep 25-1 in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs before advancing to the quarterfinals by defeating Northwood-Lena 13-3.
Delta Charter fell to Grand Lake 10-0 in the quarterfinals at Grand Lake. Grand Lake lost to Oak Grove 2-1 in the Class 1A state championship game.
The Storm finished 12-12.
“It was a blast,” Kennedy said of the playoffs. “It was fun, but I really couldn’t enjoy it because I was busy getting ready for the next game. You never knew if this would be your last practice. But it was awesome, and everything a coach can dream of. It was a great learning perspective for the kids. I try to keep everything in perspective, and at the same time coach them up. I want them to understand that this game is going to help them in life.”
Kennedy is the 2022 All-Parish Coach of the Year, while Storm senior pitcher Preston Higgins is the Player of the Year.
Higgins was experiencing playing for his fourth different head coach in four years.
“I knew after three coaches to expect something different,” Higgins said. “It was just a matter of getting comfortable with Coach Kennedy, putting my trust in him and helping him to trust our guys.”
Higgins led the Storm with a .479 batting average. He scored 46 runs, walked 16 times and only stuck out eight times
Higgins was 4-3 on the mound, with a 3.24 earned run average. He struck out 52, walking 32.
“When we started out 2-7 we got down, but I knew it would just take one good outing,” Higgins said. “I knew we could show we belonged and could compete with the bigger schools. It was just a matter of trusting each other. Everyone was doubting us. We just wanted to prove everybody wrong.”
When not on the mound, Higgins played second base and shortstop.
“I like being on the mound,” Higgins said.”I like being a bulldog out there and leading the team. When I’m pitching I feel in control of the game.”
Higgins, who is attending Copiah-Lincoln in Wesson and plans on being a utility lineman, said pitching helped him at the plate.
“It gave me a different perspective when I was in the batter’s box,” he said.”I knew what to expect from the other pitcher at times.”
Also named to the team from Delta Charter are senior Payten Roberts, freshman Ethan Keith, freshman Will Wiley, sophomore Davis Cooper and sophomore Kyle Whatley.
Roberts batted .386.
Whatley hit .318.
Keith batted .397 for the Storm. He was 4-3 on the mound, with a 4.82 ERA. He struck out 52 and walked 24.
Wiley batted .386 as a freshman.
Cooper batted .343 for the Storm.
Representing Vidalia are junior Jake Spears, junior Luke Williamson, sophomore Gage Cupstid and sophomore Gabe Rushing.
Spears batted .429 with nine RBIs and walked 25 times.
Williamson batted .400 with a home run, driving in 19 runs and walking 11 times.
Rushing hit .322 with a home run, driving in 20 runs.
Cupstid batted .297 with 16 RBIs and walked six times. He was also 3-6 on the mound.
Representing Monterey are senior Kerry King, senior Jake Crawford, senior Ethan Heard, sophomore Tyson Young, senior JJ Farris, junior Nathan Blount and senior Conner Boyd.
King led the Wolves with a .644 batting average.
Boyd finished the season ßwith a .537 average.
Heard batted .518 for the Wolves.
Young batted .513 on the season.
Blount finished the season with a .469 batting average.
Crawford finished the season hitting .418.
Farris batted .380.