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Story Archives: Ashmore keeps on winning
|Ashmore keeps on winning|
For three straight years, former Huntington baseball coach Mitch Ashmore watched the team in the dugout across from his Hounds celebrate a state championship.
Four years later, Ashmore was sitting in the same dugout, but with a different uniform and a different outcome.
The longtime Hound coach led Trinity to its first baseball state championship last week as the Saints swept Winona Christian in convincing fashion.
"This was my seventh time to reach the finals and there were times we just couldn't quite get over the hump," Ashmore said. "This was exciting for me, but it's even more special for the players."
Ashmore led Huntington to the state baseball finals five times, winning state in 1994.
Ashmore started the baseball program at Huntington in 1987 and led the first Hound team to a 5-6 mark.
After going 12-21 his first three years, Ashmore took two years off and returned in 1992 and led the Hounds to the state championship series where they fell to Central Private.
Two years later, Huntington won its first and only state championship.
In 2005, Huntington won its first game against Central, lost the second and won the third in the opening round.
The Hounds swept Riverdale before beating Glenbrook in three games.
Then came the state championship series against Tunica, which Tunica won at home in the third game of the series.
In 2006, Huntington lost its first game at Glenbrook, won its second game at home and won the series in Minden.
Huntington lost its first game at Sylva Bay, but won the next two to move on to South State.
The Hounds swept Heidelberg to reach the finals.
The Hounds defeated Porter's Chapel in the first game of the championship series, but fell 5-4 to the Eagles in a 10-inning contest in Vicksburg.
Porter's Chapel won the championship at Huntington by a 5-4 score, tagging out the potential tying run at the plate.
"I thought about that play while I was sitting in the dugout," Ashmore said.
In 2007, the Hounds advanced to the finals and lost two of three games to Bayou Academy. Bayou was led by pitcher Caleb Reed, who is now considered one of the top relief pitchers in the Southeastern Conference as a member of the Mississippi State baseball team.
Huntington finished third in district in 2008 and missed out on the district tournament.
Ashmore retired from coaching following the year, but was offered the Trinity job in 2010.
The Saints defeated Riverdale in the first round of the playoffs last year, but lost to eventual state champion Riverfield in the second round.
"I really thought that team had a chance to win it all, but I think it took a while for them to get comfortable with me," Ashmore said.
This year's Trinity team had only four seniors on the squad.
Ashmore added three former Huntington players, Jarred Hedrick, Caleb Gillespie and Hunter Knapp, who transferred after Huntington School shut down at the end of last school year.
Trinity shared Liberty Park with Natchez High and Cathedral, which often created scheduling nightmares.
He received permission to play Trinity's home games at the abandoned Huntington baseball field this year.
"It brought back a lot of great memories playing on that field," Ashmore said.
Trinity defeated Jackson Prep and Madison Ridgeland Academy during the regular season and outscored its opponents 113-14 during the playoffs, including dominating Winona Christian 19-1 in the finals.
"This team reminded me a lot of the 1994 team because those guys had been together a while," Ashmore said.
Ashmore said the winning tradition at Trinity — the Saint football team won a state title and the boys basketball team advanced to the state finals - played a big part in the baseball team finishing on top.
"These guys are used to winning," Ashmore said. "They are not intimidated by anybody."
Trinity will move up to Class AA this next two seasons.
"The teams we will play will be more consistently bigger and stronger," Ashmore said. "But I feel like we can compete. We've got a number of underclassmen coming back. We feel like we can get back there. We may not win State again, but that's going to be our goal."
Ashmore had a great tradition of outstanding baseball at Huntington and is beginning that tradition at Trinity.
Saint fans are finding out what Hound fans have known for years - Ashmore demands the maximum effort, as well as knowing and executing the fundamentals of the game.
Those were the expectations at Huntington.
And now those are the same kind of expectations at Trinity Episcopal thanks to Mitch Ashmore.
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