BA trio in all-star test

Published 7:22 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

Brookhaven Academy claims an all-star trifecta this week inJackson. BA pitcher/outfielder Tripp Jolly and first baseman WillGatlin will play for the MAIS Class AA-AAA South All-Star BaseballTeam and BA’s Casey Edwards will coach the dream team.

Saturday’s 2 p.m. AA-AAA star wars at Smith-Wills Stadium will bepreceded by the Class A game at 11 a.m.

The BA Cougars are fresh from winning the Class AA StateChampionship. According to Coach Edwards, additional accolades areicing on the cake.

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“It’s an honor to coach in an all-star game and I’m looking forwardto it,” said Edwards. He is a 1995 Franklin County product who isenjoying his first year coaching the Cougars.

He said Jolly and Gatlin were deserving of the all-star selection.”Will is definitely our leader on this team. Whenever a game is onthe line, I would want him batting because he wants it more.”

Edwards said Gatlin’s defensive skills improved this season. “Willreally improved on his fielding and defense this year. His glovesaved us several times.”

Jolly pitched the title-clinching game against Hillcrest Christian.He didn’t walk a batter and allowed just four hits, striking outeight.

“Tripp threw one of his better games all year in the championship,”said Edwards. “When his breaking ball was on, he wasn’t going togive up many hits.”

Jolly posted an 8-2 record. He plans to attend Millsaps College andplay football. He starred as a wide receiver on BA’s 15-0 statechampionship team.

At the plate, Jolly batted .407, hitting four homers and collecting32 RBIs.

Jolly said his favorite college baseball team is Ole Miss. “I’vesuffered and died with them in the last couple of regionals thatthey lost.”

In Major League Baseball, Jolly said he admires San FranciscoGiants pitcher Tim Lincecum. “He dominates everybody he pitchesagainst. And I like his (long) hair, too.”

Jolly also loves playing golf and spends his free time on the golfcourse. He plans to play for the Jays this summer, BA assistantbaseball coach Robert Young’s travel team.

Gatlin has signed to play football at Mississippi College as adefensive end. He was one of Cougars’ leading tacklers lastseason.

In baseball, Gatlin batted .490 and hit five homers. He accountedfor 34 RBIs.

“Will doesn’t think he’s a good player,” said Edwards. “He has ahumble spirit. He’s really intimidating in that 3-hole spot and hebatted around .500 this year.”

Asked about his favorite professional baseball player, Gatlinpointed to second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox.”He’s very team oriented. He hustles all the time.”

Gatlin said he plans to major in communications and obtain a minorin business at MC. He said he was looking forward to playing forEdwards in one more game.

“Coach Edwards put everything together for us this year,” saidGatlin. “He makes practice fun, not monotonous.”

After the Cougars lost their playoff opener at Centreville Academy,Edwards had his team take batting practice the next day. Gatlinsaid, “We hit a ton of baseballs.”

Jolly said he enjoyed playing for Edwards. “He’s pretty strict buthe gets along well with all of us. He got my attention the firstweek.”

Jolly recalled a disappointing loss to Parklane Academy. “After welost to Parklane, we practiced for about six hours. Coach Edwardsis usually in a good mood but he can be intense, too, when he hasto be.”

They agreed that Saturday would be a fun experience for all-starplayers and coaches.