Wed Apr 20 09:07am EDT
Tupelo (Miss.) High and South Panola (Miss.) High have a steady rivalry across a handful of different sports, with the 2010 football matchup between the two even serving as a RivalsHigh Game of the Week in October. Now the rivalry has a newly minted luster, thanks to what might be the baseball play of the year, courtesy of Tupelo star Caleb Walker.
Walker's moment of magic -- which you can see above thanks to Mississippi NBC affiliate WTVA -- came in the bottom of the sixth inning of the latest baseball meeting between Tupelo and South Panola on April 11. Trailing by a run, Tupelo needed a big play with Walker standing on second base.
That's when slugger J.D. Roberts came through, stroking a drive to left field. Walker took off on the crack of the bat, rounded third and headed home despite a clear shot at him from South Panola's left fielder.
The ball beat the runner to the plate, but Walker came up with a way to get around a seemingly certain out. With a tag waiting for him at home, Walker first slid, stopped short of the plate and then went up-and-over the South Panola catcher, landing safely at home.
"Jackie Chan might teach that somewhere," Walker's teammate Connor Carothers told NBC affiliate WTVA. "I don't know.
"[The slide was] Beyond amazing."
What Carothers and the rest of the Tupelo team does know is that Walker's acrobatic play completely changed their game against South Panola. Tupelo went on to rack up five more runs in the bottom of the sixth before shutting down South Panola in the seventh to escape with a surprising, 7-2 victory.
The play at the plate was also incredibly similar to a miracle run scored a year ago in collegiate baseball, when Fordham runner Brian Kownacki scored by leaping directly over an opposing catcher, as you can see in the video below.
Yet, if you compare both slides, it's not a stretch to say that Walker's score is at least as impressive as its collegiate counterpart. The high school star not only leaped over his opponent, he did so after first trying to score on a traditional slide.
For both the outcome of Walker's slide, and the play itself, the magical maneuver at the plate was a transcendent moment for the teen.
"One of the greatest moments of my life," Walker told WTVA.
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