Ocean Springs' pitching and defense ignites region 8-6A lead

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - This week might be the toughest stretch of games for Ocean Springs baseball.

They play twice against the defending 6A south state champion Harrison Central Red Rebels, and Saturday against the defending 5A south state champion Pascagoula Panthers.

The Greyhounds have turned things around with 10 wins in their last 12 games after starting out the season with a three-game losing streak.

Despite allowing just two hits and losing 3-1 to the Red Rebels Tuesday night, head coach Jesse Kanode's team displays a 7-2 district record and control first place in region 8-6A. Kanode recently picked up his 200th career coaching win and was honored before a home game against Hancock in March.

"I don't want to get recognized at all," Kanode said. "Everything I get as a head coach is because of the kids I've got and because of the coaching staff I'm fortunate enough to work with. I feel like I'm taking a lot of recognition for a lot of hard work that other people put in, but it was nice and I appreciate them doing it."

Junior pitcher and center fielder Marcus Buckley is one of those players Kanode is talking about. Buckley says the arms and gloves have been the backbone to the overall success this season.

"We've got some really good pitchers in the rotation and the defense has been big," Buckley said. "We just have to get back on the sticks. We have to hit the ball more. We've been playing really good."

"We're really not playing to what we're capable of yet," senior pitcher Billy Cox said. "We're not playing like the best team in the district like we should be. We're playing well enough to win but not what we're capable of by any means."

Cox, who is committed to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has a record of 1-2 in his last three starts, but showcased a 1.78 ERA in 19 2/3 innings in those games. His recent pitching has helped him earn some interest from a Division I school.

"I got a call today actually," Cox said. "Southern (Miss) is kind of interested. I'm looking to go junior college for the first two years and that'd be an awesome place to end up after that."