By Robert Wilson

Northwest Rankin is trying to win its first state baseball championship since 2005 and senior pitcher-shortstop Nick Monistere is leading the way for the Cougars.

The Southern Miss signee got Northwest Rankin one step closer to the MHSAA Class 6A state title last week.

Monistere threw a three-hit, complete game shutout with 17 strikeouts and no walks and hit .600 with a home run, a double and three runs batted in in two wins over St. Martin in the best of three series in the second round of the 6A playoffs last week.

For his outstanding performance, Monistere has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.

It was the second time Monistere has received the Player of the Week honor this season.

Monistere threw 103 pitches and faced 24 batters – three over the minimum – in his complete game, three-hit shutout and hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning in Northwest Rankin’s 8-0 victory over St. Martin in the first game last week. He also fielded two balls for outs to go along with his 17 strikeouts so Monistere was responsible for 19 of the 21 outs in the game.

Monistere, playing shortstop, had a double and a single, scored one run and had one RBI and had two assists and one putout in Northwest Rankin’s 5-0 victory over St. Martin in the second game to complete the sweep in the best-of-three series.

By Jared Thomas

“Nick’s performance against St. Martin was one of the more dominating pitching performances I’ve witnessed by a high school pitcher,” said Northwest Rankin second-year head coach KK Aldridge, who played at Northwest Rankin and Millsaps College and was an assistant coach at Hattiesburg High, Brandon and Northwest and a head coach at Pelahatchie before taking over for Jeff McClaskey at Northwest Rankin last season. 

“He was in the zone all night long and his velocity was just as strong in the seventh inning as it was in the first. I know our gun had him 91-94 (miles per hour) for most of the night. When you can command that type of velocity, it makes your off speed even more devastating. Nick had every pitch working that game.

“Nick has had a tremendous season and it’s an honor to watch him go about his business as a leader on our team. He is as hard of a worker as you are going to find, and he plays with a competitive fire that is fun to watch. Nick is deserving of every accolade he is receiving, but I know he is more excited about the success of our team than his individual numbers. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Monistere – a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – is hitting .400 with 31 runs, 26 RBIs, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 7 home runs, .530 on base percentage, .811 slugging percentage and 18 stolen bases and has led Northwest Rankin to a 28-2 record and a No. 12 national ranking by Baseball America.

Northwest Rankin plays host to Petal Friday at 7 p.m. in the first game of the best-of-three Class 6A quarterfinal series at Northwest Rankin in Flowood. Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Petal. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Northwest Rankin.

Monistere had an 11-1 record with a 1.88 ERA and had 97 strikeouts and 21 walks in 70 2/3 innings and helped Northwest Rankin to a 27-9 record and a MHSAA Class 6A runner-up finish last season as a junior. It was the first appearance in the state championship since 2005. He was a first-team selection on the Priority One Bank Metro Jackson Team. Monistere also hit .384 with 32 runs, 30 RBIs, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and a .666 slugging percentage.

Coaches can nominate their players for the weekly award by contacting Robert Wilson with text or call (601.506.2276) or email ([email protected]).