Daily Leader 2022 All Area Baseball Coach of the Year – Daily Leader
Matte White, Brookhaven High
Lively might be a good word to describe what Brookhaven High baseball coach Matt White looks like in the dugout and on the third base line when his Panthers play.
The dictionary defines animation as full of life or excitement and that seems to match White to the letter.
His passion for his players is evident and in 2022 the Panthers responded to White’s coaching by winning the Region 5-5A title with a thrilling win over West Jones.
For his efforts and leadership, White was named Coach of the Year by Daily Leader All-Area.
Brookhaven High finished 13-7 on aggregate as they lost games on their original schedule due to wet weather early in the season.
Players, fans and coaching staff knew that BHS would raise their level of play in 2022 with a new division. The Panthers were joined in Region 5 by Natchez High, newcomer 5A Florence and West Jones.
Soso’s WJ Mustangs won the 5A state title in 2019 and have one of the best programs in the standings year after year.
Region play has been split into a set of three match rosters against each enemy in the division, with matchups spread out over the course of the season.
When the Panthers started the regional playoffs with a 2-1 win over Florence and a 2-0 win over West Jones, they put themselves in control of the regional title.
West Jones bounced back the following night to beat BHS 10-0 and Florence then got their revenge with an 8-1 win.
This meant that for Brookhaven to reach their gold goal in the region, they needed to beat both teams in their third meeting.
White’s side traveled to Florence and knocked out the top task on this list with a 5-1 victory on April 8, which set up a huge game on Moyer Field against West Jones on April 18.
In this region deciding game, BHS got a masterful pitching performance from senior pitcher Maney Miller.
Tied 1-1 late in the seventh, White opted to pinch Will Moak with one out. Moak responded with a single then moved to second when Bryson Porter was hit by a pitch.
White then called on senior Addison Brady to lay down a bunt and the senior executed it perfectly to load the bases.
That cleared the way for junior leadoff hitter Jake Meilstrup to hit an infield single and send home the winning run.
The BHS dugout burst into heaps of dogs as the coaching staff, including White’s longtime assistant Ernie Triplett, looked on with smiles.
When the party died down, the players knelt down to listen to their head coach.
“Nobody’s better than us, baby, nobody’s better than us today,” White told his team. “You did that – we coaches didn’t. You did that today with the way you made plays when you had to and now we are regional champions.
With his hands moving to underline every word and his smile shining under the visor of his hat and his voice rising at the end of each sentence – White was as full of life and excitement as a man could take.