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Redemption is complete for Loyd Star

It was a long year for Loyd Star, trying to get back to Trustmark Park in Pearl.

Head coach Jared Britt and his Loyd Star Hornets knew they had the talent to get back to the 2A state championship series with the majority of the roster returning in 2017.

Once they defeated St. Joseph for the 2A South State title, they had to focus their attention on winning it at Trustmark and not just being happy with getting there.

The shift in attitude and preparation worked, and on Friday night the Hornets won their first state championship in 37 years.

“Words can’t describe how I feel right now to bring my alma mater a championship,” Britt said. “It wasn’t just one guy. I got 21 kids on the team and it was all 21 of them. They worked hard from February until now to bring this crowd right here a championship.”

The presence of the Loyd Star faithful at Trustmark Park was unmatched. Fans packed the park in droves and it was a sea of red behind the Loyd Star dugout Friday night along the third-base line.

“The crowd was incredible. I can definitely say we packed the house tonight,” Britt said after he tipped his dirt-stained hat to the crowd. “Loyd Star brought it and they always do. When we get to the playoffs, they’re amazing. These guys were hungry just as we were. Tonight, we gave them something to cheer about.”

For the four seniors who played their last game in a Loyd Star uniform, they wanted to make it back to that moment to get revenge for what happened last year. Luckily, they faced the same team in East Union that beat them in the state title series last season.

“Everybody on the team that was here last year, they wanted some revenge,” senior Konner Allen said. “We went out there, we showed out and we got it.”

The game wasn’t easy by any stretch for senior Parker Flowers. Flowers picked up the win on the mound, but had to work hard to get the job done.

Flowers pitched 5.2 innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits, five walks and struck out eight.

“They were probably the best hitting team I’ve seen all year,” Flowers said about East Union. “They came out early and hit the ball well and my defense backed me up and it really helped out a lot.”

The senior was taken out of the game in the top of sixth at 120 pitches when freshman Tanner Watts came in to finish the job. Flowers wanted to finish what he started, but he knew his pitch count was high and the right moved had to be made.

“It hurt because I really wanted to finish that game,” Flowers said. “It was pretty emotional walking off that field.”

Senior designated hitter Cole Smith led the Hornets at the plate Friday night, going 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored. Seniors Konner Allen and Bradyn Brister both went 1-for-4 at the plate with Brister driving in one run.

The seniors made their round of interviews after the dog-piles and trophy ceremonies ended.

They went out the right way.

A state championship in their last baseball game is the stuff dreams are made of and for the four seniors, they lived that dream.

“I’m glad me and my brothers that have played together since Little League and T-ball that we got to end it like this,” Allen said. “That will always be something we can look back on and talk about when we get older. It’ll be awesome.”

“Everybody dreams of this,” Flowers said. “For this to be my last game, I can’t be any happier that I went out like this. Even though I’m sad to see it end, I can’t be more happy.”