Though West Jones had never won a baseball title, Trey Sutton’s expectation of winning the program’s first wasn’t so far fetched that it brought a handful of naysayers or mockers. The program had seen years, even decades of success. As a former alum, Sutton had been a part of it. He, and the program, just lacked the hump of capturing its first.
Fast forward through the Sutton years as a player, the gap between his days as a player at West Jones and a coach at his alma mater, the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons, and Sutton had this to say: “There’s no greater feeling than running out of the dugout, knowing you just won a state championship.”
With Sutton in command, West Jones won the program’s first-ever state baseball title in 2019 with a two-game sweep of Lafayette at Pearl’s Trustmark Park.
Sutton said it has been was the expectation all along.
“We came in with the mindset of winning a state championship every year,” Sutton said. “It’s probably not feasible, but that’s the goal we want to set every year. West Jones has always been a good baseball program, so coming into that you feel like you have the players around you to accomplish those goals with.”
The taste was bitter last season. West Jones fell to Hattiesburg in the Class 5A South State series in 2018, and though everyone knew 2018 was Hattiesburg’s year, the loss still hurt for Sutton and Company. Those who would return in 2019 came together that night and vowed to win it all next season.
And so they did.
“The kids made up their mind that night before we left Hattiesburg [in 2018] that they didn’t want that feeling next year [in 2019],” recalled Sutton. “They wanted to be the ones who won their last game of the season.”
Sutton had the players who wanted it in 2019, but so did everyone else in 5A. What was remarkable about 2019 was how West Jones kept that emotional promise from 2018 with such a massive target painted on their back. Like with Hattiesburg the year before, West Jones was the team pre-designed in some fashion to win it all in 2019. Everyone knew what and who West Jones returned and how hard they’d be to beat. The Mustangs did it anyway.
Sutton said to win a title like that seems to be more difficult.
“The kids heard all summer, all fall, and all spring how good they were and how they should be in Jackson playing for a state title,” said Sutton. “Sometimes that brings added pressure. And in some cases that can be detrimental. But our kids handled the expectations and kept blinders on. They kept their nose to the ground and came to work every day.”
Not only did Sutton’s squad win the 5A title and finish 29-5 overall, but they also breezed through five playoff rounds without a Game 3 – in other words, without a playoff loss.
“Our kids hit another gear once they got to the playoffs,” Sutton said. “They played hard all year, but to a certain extent, I felt like our guys were waiting for the playoffs [to do so]. We scheduled tough during the regular season to help prepare us, and our kids played that schedule well, but to a certain extent it was like our guys knew to find another gear once the playoffs began.”
With three outs remaining from the school’s first-ever state baseball title, how Sutton imagined a state title would feel, and how it eventually felt was different.
“We talked a lot as a team during the playoffs on how that last out would look like and feel like,” said Sutton. “But seeing that last out and running out of the dugout because you won a state championship is a feeling you can’t put into words. If you could bottle that feeling up and sell it, you’d make a killing.”
The coach who led West Jones to its first state baseball title in school history – Trey Sutton – is our Sports601 Baseball Coach of the Year for Jones, Jasper and Smith County area.