LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI Sports) - The Louisville High School baseball team took the field and paused for a moment of silence to remember the nine people killed in its town just three days prior.
“[Baseball] is like a getaway,” senior Wyatt Roberts said. “For us, it’s a huge night to make a statement for the city.”
As Winston County continues its recovery process, LHS has begun its playoff series with Kossuth.
“With the devastation that has occurred here, hopefully we can bring some normalcy back tonight,” head coach Charlie Smith said. “Sports have always been that way. They sometimes help bring communities back together.”
Smith’s home was destroyed Monday by an EF-4 tornado that demolished over 300 homes in the county.
“The outpouring was tremendous, from my people here, my players, their families,” Smith said. “By almost 2:30 in the morning 146 coaches in the state of Mississippi had texted or called me.”
The players have rallied around their head coach.
“I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now and for him to still give 100% effort into this team, it means the world to us,” Roberts said. “We’re going to give our heart and soul into this game and the rest of this season.”
The Wildcats scored twice in the game but ultimately lost 4-2. It was the first game in the best-of-three series.
M.C. Miller, Louisville’s head football coach, was also in attendance.
“You have to pick it up and keep going because that’s the lord’s work and ain’t nothing we can do about that but keep going,” Miller said.
Kathy Humphries, Smith’s mother-in-law, said the support Smith and the team have received makes a statement about the state.
“You hear so many negative things about Mississippi,” Kathy Humphries said. “But the camaraderie between the coaches and the players, any kind of athletic people, have been so supportive of this team.”
Those who know Smith well said he enjoys every opportunity to focus on baseball.
“It was very emotional,” Smith said. “[The team] talked about this. This was a chance for us to do something special.”
The Wildcats play at Kossuth Friday at 6 p.m. in game two.