HICKS – After a back-and-forth start to the contest, Hicks took over in the later innings to pick up a win in the Anacoco Tournament.

The Pirates scored seven runs in the fifth inning to defeat Merryville 11-5 Thursday afternoon at Hicks High School.

"We just started clicking and understood the importance of that inning," Hicks head coach Gary Williams said. "We got the leadoff guy on and had some speed to do some things. They always seem to focus better in those times."

The win puts Hicks at 9-1 on the year after starting the season without a handful of players still playing basketball.

"My whole goal was to get the younger guys some experience, and they held their own," Williams said. "The basketball guys came, and we've all gelled.

"I think we have everything it takes to beat Pitkin, Oak Hill and all of those good teams. We just have to hit the ball consistently."

Merryville (5-7) is coming off a Class 1A State Championship with seven starters returning under first-year head coach Nathan Courville, who was an assistant at DeRidder last year.

"I know we lost just two, but they threw the semifinal and state championship games," he said. "Our biggest thing was developing the pitching staff. I think we've developed a few guys that will be right at the end.

"I learned a lot of stuff from (former DeRidder head coach Chad) Menard. He helped me understand what it takes to be a head coach. I took a lot from him and brought it here. It's a fun experience and what I wanted."

The Panthers took a 4-0 lead off a three-run home run to center from JD Reeves in the top of third inning, but in the bottom half of the inning, Trace Williams drove in a Dylan Williams and Hunter Thacker to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Trace Williams went 2-3 with four RBIs and has been an offensive force to start the year.

"Honestly, he was kind of off balanced tonight at the plate," Gary Williams said. "Soft pitching hurts him a little bit. He's killed the ball for us since he's gotten back from basketball. He probably is the reason our momentum is where it's at. He's definitely our leader. He's a silent leader, but he's the guy that gets it going."

After Hicks tied it up in the fourth, Merryville retook the lead on an RBI single by Kole Royer to score JT Gargis.

"I think we're pretty well-balanced, all around," Courville said. "We have some speed at the top and bottom and power throughout. I think we'll continue to build on what we have and work on our approach."

In the fifth, Hicks scored on a single by Garrett Farmer, two bases loaded walks, a single by Thacker, an error and an RBI double by Brock Beaubouef.

Thacker shut out Merryville for the rest of the game to pick up the win on the mound. Thacker gave up just one hit over two innings.