Kemper Academy baseball team playing for title

Kemper Academy baseball team playing for title


After securing back-to-back 2-1 victories over Calhoun Academy in a thrilling North State championship series last week, the Kemper Academy Rams baseball team is heading to a historic 2-A MAIS State Championship. 

This milestone marks Kemper Academy's first appearance in the state championship series, following their first-ever North State title win.

“It’s great for our players to be able to leave their mark on the school,” said Head Coach Colt Kilpatrick. “Now we just got one more job to go do and try to bring a State Championship home.”

Kilpatrick, a Neshoba County native, is currently in his fourth year as the head coach of the Kemper Academy baseball program. 

The Rams will face Wilkinson County Christian Academy in the State Championship. Game one is scheduled at home on Tuesday, May 14 at 3 p.m., followed by game two at Wilkinson County on Wednesday, May 15 at 5 p.m.

With a 15-6 overall record heading into State, the Rams are gearing up for the most critical games of the season.

Kilpatrick said he has told his players all season that, “We are only going to go as far as our defense takes us and rely on timely offensive play.”

“Early on we had young talent all over the place,” Kilpatrick said. “I got two eighth graders and two ninth graders starting at any given time. As we got into district play, we really started to hit our stride defensively and offensively. It’s a testament to their growth throughout the season.”

During the opening rounds of the playoffs against Marvell Academy and Delta Academy, the team has shown gradual improvement, he said. 

The Rams dominated Marvell Academy with scores of 13-0 and 19-1 and defeated Delta Academy 16-8 and 16-6 with stellar offensive play.

However, in the first game of the North State series against the Calhoun Cougars, the Rams faced offensive challenges until senior third baseman Eli Weaver's critical 8th-inning two-run homer secured the lead. 

In the bottom half, a game-sealing diving play in center field made by sophomore Cooper Thornton clinched the victory for the team. 

In game two, sophomore pitcher Blake Hutcherson's lights-out performance held the Cougars to one run over 7 innings with 8 strikeouts. 

Freshman Davis Cumberland's ground rule double in the 6th inning drove in the go-ahead run, allowing Hutcherson to close out the game in the 7th.

“I’ve preached to them all year long that regardless of the success this year, you got to learn how to be mentally tough and stay focused when things aren’t going your way,” Kilpatrick said. 

“Going into the playoffs, you could really tell they started believing what they could do as a team, and it really showed in the North State series.”

Kilpatrick credited his team’s strengths to pitching and defense and praised this year’s team as the best he’s had in four years of coaching at Kemper Academy.

“The amount of support that’s been given to the players and school by alumni and the people of this community has been great,” he said. “They showed out and pushed our boys to a victory in game two the other night.”

Encouraging his players to embrace the moment, Kilpatrick said, “The hard part of making it to a State Championship is done. Regardless of the end result, you’re ending your season playing for a championship.”

For Kilpatrick, winning the state title would not only be a huge success for the school but also a realization of the championship standard he's instilled in his players.

“We’ve seen year by year with each senior class, their leadership has developed. Especially this year,” he said. “I’ve had them as freshmen, and they’ve grown into who they are as seniors this year. They’ve pushed us to a District championship and a North State championship.”

Looking ahead, Kilpatrick said he wants to continue setting that standard for the program and to keep raising the bar higher for upcoming varsity players in the future.

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