Oak Grove's Booth helps Warriors in win over George County

By CAMAL PETRO,

HATTIESBURG – How often does Oak Grove sophomore DeeJay Booth get asked about the spelling of his name?

“A lot,” he says.

Well, he’s quickly becoming a household name for the Oak Grove Warriors. After Oak Grove dropped a 2-1 game to George County Tuesday night, it bounced back with a 12-0 win over the Rebels Friday, and Booth was a big part of the reason why.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from Matt Bush.

Oak Grove had a tough task ahead of them, facing Mississippi State commitment Logan Tanner, but it came back from the tough loss Tuesday with 10 hits to score the 12 runs.

“Deejay is just another one of our babies,” Oak Grove coach Chris McCardle said when referencing his lack of varsity experience prior to this year. “He’s learning the ropes of how to play big boy baseball. Deejay is a true athlete, a good teammate and he’s adjusting his game to the level he needs to be to hit guys like he did (tonight.)

“He plays with a lot of confidence and he’s one of the sparks we’ve had over the last couple of games. We’re expecting for him to keep it up.”

Booth went 3-for-3 from the dish Friday with two doubles, a single, two runs scored and an RBI. The left-handed hitter is currently riding a six-game hitting streak, and he’s collected 13 hits in his last 18 at-bats over the course of those six games.

He started the season with only three hits through the first five games, but with his recent success, he’s second on the team with a .471 batting average. Junior John Rhys Plumlee leads the way with a .472 mark from the plate.

“I just keep the same approach,” Booth said. “Short to the ball.”

On Friday, Booth was just a part of the Warriors’ offense. Senior Hayes Maples also had three hits in the contest, and the first six guys in the lineup added base hits. The top eight players got on base with at least a walk, too.

Booth picked up his first hit in the first inning with a runner on base. He smacked a double to left field to give Oak Grove a 2-0 lead. In the third inning, he led off the frame with an opposite-field double down the left field line. It was the first pitch he saw, too.

“They were all outside,” Booth said. “I never get in because I’m so close to the plate, so they just throw me outside.”

His hit to start the inning would begin an eight-run rally that would push the Oak Grove lead to 12-0. Booth didn’t just show power, however, because when the Warriors batted around in the third he came back up and hit a bouncer to shortstop, which he beat out.

“Before the season, I trained my speed a lot,” Booth said. “We prepared since Tuesday. We knew we had to take this team down to win the district.”

With the win, Oak Grove improves 8-4 overall and 3-1 in Region 5-6A. It’s currently tied with Petal atop the standings, as the Rebels sit in third with a 2-2 record. Oak Grove and Petal play two games next week.

“We’re getting close,” McCardle said. “We had a good week of practice. With all the rain, and we had spring break off, we haven’t been on the field much to work on things. We really didn’t know what we had to work on until we faced guys liked (George County) had. George County has a tremendous team. We made some adjustments at the plate Wednesday and Thursday, and we worked on our approach at the plate.”

Oak Grove’s starting pitcher sophomore Turner Swistak pitched five shutout innings while scattering two hits and three walks. He added six strikeouts, too, including the final out of the game.

Oak Grove travels to Purvis Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest.