Sunday, February 23, 2020






Westbrook Pitching Ace Samuel Dutton Takes “Perfect” Game to another Level

    MONTGOMERY – Westbrook Christian senior pitcher Samuel Dutton took his bid for a perfect game to another level last week. The senior and Warriors’ ace hurler faced the minimum 15 batters in Westbrook’s five-inning 12-0 high school baseball win. He struck out the first 14 batters he faced and finished his perfect game by getting Gaston’s William Humphrey to ground out on a 0-2 pitch to third.
    For his efforts, Dutton, an LSU commit, grabbed the AHSAA Baseball Spotlight this week.
    The pitcher explained his simple but effective pitching philosophy to sportswriter Chris McCarthy of the Gadsden Messenger as concentrating on just one batter at a time as he worked his way through the Gaston lineup.
“I just try to stay focused while I am on the mound,” he said. “I try to do daily what I need to do. It’s been a good season so far.” 
Westbrook, coached by Matt Kennedy, took control of the game with five runs in the top of the first inning. Greyson Robinson ripped a bases-loaded double to give Dutton all the run support he would need.
“Samuel Dutton is going compete,” said Kennedy. “He works hard and gets the job done. It’s a joy to watch him pitch and I’m proud of the way our team responds when he’s out there.” The pitcher helped his own cause with a double and two runs scored.
    In other baseball highlights reported from the last two weeks:

JACOB DAVIS, SPANISH FORT: Hurled a one-hitter and struck out 16 as Spanish Fort downed Daphne 2-0.
Tossed a no-hitter striking out 12 to beat Boonville (MO) 10-0, and teammate Jackson Kimbrel struck out 13 in a 6-1 win over Austin.
JACKSON REECE, JAMES CLEMENS: Pitched a six-inning 11-1 win over Auburn striking out 12.
ISAAC EVANS, ATHENS: Hurled a six-inning no-hitter over DAR striking out eight to get the win.
KONNER COPELAND, SARALAND: Pitched a five-inning two-hit shutout and struck out 13 as the Spartans downed Alma Bryant 10-0.
COLT SMITH, MARS HILL BIBLE: Hurled a one-hit, six-inning shutout with nine strikeouts to beat Shoals Christian 10-0. Panthers’ slugger Collin Huntley collected a single, double and triple to drive in two runs for Mars Hill.
DANIEL JAMES, GRISSOM: Struck out 14 and allowed just one earned run in the Tigers’ 7-2 win over Ooltewah (TN). He yielded three hits.
BLAISE DYKES, SLOCOMB: Hurled a five-inning no-hitter as the Red Tops blanked Kinston 14-0 in the Geneva County tourney. He struck out seven and walked two.


PHILLIP EDWARDS, PARKER: Went on a hitting spree to lead the Thundering Herd to the 11th annual Cap Brown Southwest Hit-A-Way Tourney title. He was 14-of-15 with nine RBIs and also notched one win on the mound.
DYLAN RAY, BOB JONES: The Patriots’ slugger clubbed a two-out, two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to climax a five-run rally in the come-from-behind 11-9 win over McGill-Toolen Catholic. Colten Carver, Caden Rose and Cam Hill each had doubles in the inning to set up the game-winning two-bagger by Ray.
NATE OWENS, PHIL CAMPBELL: The winning pitcher struck out six in a five-inning 14-3 win over East Lawrence and slugged a two-run homer as Phil Campbell saw nine different players collect an extra-base hit in the win. Luke Barnwell, Cole Motes and Trey Leindecker tripled; Austen Baker, Rilan Garrison, Ridge Raper, Brett Saint and Mason Swinney each doubled. Barnwell, Owens, Motes and Baker each had two RBIs. Owens followed with a home run, double, single and five RBIs in a 20-6 win over Winston County.
HUELL LUMPKIN, BENJAMIN RUSSELL: Socked a run-scoring double for the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning and teammate Wilson Hays followed with a two-run triple as the Wildcats downed Auburn 6-4. The Tigers took an early 3-0 lead before the Wildcats battled back to tie the game in the seventh inning 3-3 thanks to two hit-by-pitches and a sacrifice fly by Cade Brooks.
Had two homers and three RBIs as the defending Class 2A state champs beat Clay-Chalkville 7-3 at the Gulf Coast Classic.
NICK FREEMAN, THOMPSON: Had a big week with nine hits in 12 at bats as the Warriors beat Spain Park three times. He scored five runs and had two RBIs.
PEYTON WILSON, HOOVER: Had two home runs, a triple and eight RBIs for the week for the Bucs. He also stole four bases.
ETHAN HEARN, MOBILE CHRISTIAN: Slammed two homers in a 7-5 loss to Class 7A Fairhope.
ALEX WADE, MADISON ACADEMY: Was 4-for-5 with a triple, double and two RBIs as the Mustangs downed Claremore (OK) 14-5.
LANE LAWSON, COVENANT CHRISTIAN: Was 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs in a 16-0 win over Vine. Covenant collected six doubles in the win.
ZAC THOMPSON, GRISSOM: Delivered s game-winning RBI double as Grissom beat Franklin County (TN) 5-4. He followed with a homer and double and two RBIs in a 7-2 win over Ootewah (TN).
DANIEL SWATEK, HOOVER: Had three doubles, five RBIs and batted .471 for the week.
MATTHEW NICHOLAS, COTTAGE HILL CHRISTIAN: Slugged two doubles and drove in three runs as Cottage Hill beat Washington County 15-4 for their ninth win in the last 10 games. The Warriors started the season 0-5.
D.J. LAW, REHOBETH: Collected four hits, including a double, and drove in two runs as the Rebels downed Geneva County 13-1.
DON WILLIAMS, HOUSTON ACADEMY: Had three hits, including a triple and two RBIs, to spark the Raiders to a 10-9 win over Headland. HA also won the first game of the doubleheader 8-7 – taking both wins with final at-bat rallies. The Raiders trailed 9-4 in the final game going into the seventh inning but scored six runs to take the win.
REECE SOLAR, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN: Stole four bases, scores three runs and had an RBI as ACA downed Prattville Christian 13-6.

Coaching Baseball Was Inevitable for Mark Mincher, Son of Former Major Leaguer

Sixth of an 11-Part Series on the HOF Class of 2019


            It was almost a given that Mark Mincher would someday be a baseball coach.  The pedigree was there as the son of former major leaguer Don Mincher. And quite a baseball coach he became.
             Mincher is being enshrined as a member of the Class of 2019 into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The annual banquet is March 18 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. The AHSAA and AHSADCA founded the Hall of Fame in 1991.
            A native of Huntsville, Coach Mincher graduated from Hazel Green High School in 1975 and from Memphis State (now Memphis University) in 1980. He also holds a master’s degree in administration from Alabama A&M.          At Hazel Green, he played football, baseball and basketball for four years, earning All-County honors in each sport.
            At Memphis, he was a four-year starter on the baseball team, compiling a career batting average of .270 and. The Tigers had a 131-49 record during his tenure. They won the Metro Conference championship in 1978 and made two NCAA regional tournament appearances. 

            He began his teaching and coaching career in 1980 at Monrovia Middle School in Madison County. His first duties were coaching football, baseball and both and boys’ and girls’ basketball. The boys won a junior high county championship.

            In 1982 he moved to Sparkman High School as junior varsity baseball and basketball coach. He also was a football assistant. He was elevated to head baseball coach in 1983. His Senators had one appearance in the state playoffs, and Mincher was named Madison County Baseball Coach of the Year in 1984.

            He moved to Huntsville High School as an assistant in varsity football and head coach in freshman football. He was also varsity baseball coach, a position he held until 2012. From 1995-2012, he was also HHS athletic director.
            While compiling a record of 576-353, his baseball teams won 12 city championships, eight area championships and one state championship (2011). They were in the state playoffs 18 times. He was named National Federation of High Schools and Alabama Baseball Coaches Association state Coach of the Year in 2011.

            He was named Huntsville city Coach of the Year eight times and metro Coach of the Year four times. He was named AHSAA/AHSADCA Athletic Director of the Year for 2005-06 and was inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

            Gregory L. Hicks, director of behavioral learning for Huntsville City Schools, wrote of Mincher: “I first met Coach Mincher in the summer of 2003. I had just joined the Huntsville High School faculty and coaching staff. At that time, Coach Mincher was the head freshman football coach, head baseball coach, athletic director and math teacher. While at Huntsville High, I learned a great deal from Coach Mincher. Most of all, I learned to be a leader, a gentleman and a winner! He is an outstanding coach, family man and educator. I am proud to have served alongside this great person.”

            Huntsville High School Principal and Freshman Academy Coordinator Leslie Esneault wrote: “With 32 years of coaching, 27 of those at Huntsville High School, Coach Mark Mincher is one of the most well-respected coaches in Alabama. Having had a remarkable mentor in his father, Don Mincher, and known for his integrity and dedication to his school and his players, Coach Mincher is an outstanding example of an exemplary leader in the athletic community.”

            “In addition to coaching, Mark was a valuable member of the HHS math department, and in 2009 entered the administration arena to become an assistant principal. During this time, Mark provided thoughtful guidance and direction on important decisions that affected our students and school. I put complete faith in his knowledge, and I value his recommendations. He is a highly reliable authority on eligibility and AHSAA rules. With his years and experience on the field and in the classroom, he is a mentor/leader for our novice coaches and teachers.
            “Even with all these awards and accolades, Mark will tell you that his most rewarding coaching experience came in May of 2011, when after 30 years of coaching, he led the Huntsville High School Panther varsity baseball team to the school’s first Alabama 6A state championship, a title that took over a century to claim! Coach Mincher was able to demonstrate that high expectations, commitment, dedication and a ‘can do’ attitude can achieve even the most difficult of accomplishments. Mark’s determination and perseverance should be examples for us all.”

            A former player, Kevin J. Wieseman, who later served as Huntsville City Schools’ athletic director and principal at Lee High School, wrote: “As a young man I was honored to play for a young energetic coach at Sparkman High School who showed a true commitment to the players and a commitment to developing them as productive members of society. Since those days I have gone on to serve with him on his baseball staff and work under his leadership as Huntsville High’s athletic director.
            “He assisted my coaching career by serving as an assistant on the football staff while I was head coach at Huntsville High. We continued our collaboration after I became Huntsville City Schools Athletic Director, working together to organize athletic programs and promote student-athletes. I consider it a blessing to be associated with this man and his distinguished career. Mark Mincher was first my trusted coach, then a peer that I respected and learned from, and most importantly a friend with whom I share common values and beliefs.”
             Mincher currently is serving as athletic director at Madison Academy.
COMING TUESDAY: Installment 7 – Basketball Coach Schuessler Ware, Anniston.


North, South Split Baseball All-Star Doubleheader at Riverwalk Stadium

     MONTGOMERY – The South won game one 3-2 Tuesday afternoon and the North bounced back to claim the nightcap 6-2 as the North-South All-Star Baseball Games kicked off the 2018 All-Star Week of all-star competition.
      The softball and soccer all-star competition was also held Tuesday night. The North-South boys’ and girls’ cross country races kick off the action Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., at the Auburn-Montgomery (AUM) on-campus cross country course. The North-South girls’ and boys’ basketball all-star games will be played Wednesday night at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome at Alabama State University. The girls play at 5 p.m., and the boys follow at 7.
      The All-Star Sports Week, an extravaganza that showcases the top student-athletes in the AHSAA in sports competition including baseball, softball, soccer, cross country, basketball, volleyball and football, has been administered annually since 1997 by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
     “This is a week where we see the best of the best competing in a pure spirit sportsmanship,” said AHSADCA Director Jamie Lee. “We are proud to showcase these student-athletes and coaches who represent the AHSAA so admirably.”
    The South baseball squad, coached by Thomasville’s Rob Carpenter and Opelika’s Nick Richardson, won the Tuesday opener in dramatic fashion scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Davidson’s Kolbe Blunt drew a lead-off walk, went to third single by Tyler Darby of Alma Bryant and scored on a one-out wild pitch by Grayson Bray with Camden Lovrich of Trinity Presbyterian at the plate to give the home team the win.
      The South, which picked up its 12th win in the series, took a quick 2-0 in the first inning when Skipper Snypes of UMS-Wright opened with a double and scored on a passed ball. G.W. Long’s Matthew Snell followed with a single and scored on an infield grounder by Jake Holifield of St. Paul’s Episcopal.
     The North All-Stars, coached by Josh Hoyle of Corner and Chris Heaps of Russellville, tied the game a 2-2 in the top of the third when Sheffield’s Chandler Moon walked and scored and Mason McCormack of Deshler singled and scored. Parker’s Phillip Edwards and J.D. Tittle drove in the runs with infield ground outs.
    Pitching dominated the rest of the way. Snell hurled the final inning  striking out two of the three batters he faced to get the win in relief. Chandler Best of McGill-Toolen Catholic hurled to scoreless inning as the South starter and struck out three.   Five South pitchers combined to allow just two hits and struck out eight.
    North starter Jackson Kimbrell of Oak Mountain allowed all three South hits in his two innings, allowed two runs and struck out four. McCormack followed with two hitless innings and four strikeouts, and Haleyville’s Blake Bennett allowed no hits and struck out two in two innings. Hartselle’s Bray, the loser, walked one and struck out one in the final inning – giving the North pitchers a combined 11 strikeouts.
    GAME 2: North 6, South 2: North pitchers Grayson Bray of Hartselle, Trey Wright of Buckhorn, John Turner of Oxford and Garrett McMillan of Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, combined to hurl a three-hitter to salvage a split in the doubleheader Tuesday night. The quartet struck out a combined six batters. Turner got the win allowing two hits and striking out one while pitching the fourth and fifth innings. McMillan hurled two shutout innings, allowed no hits and struck out two to get the save.
   Zac Durham of Jasper doubled to drive in two runs in the bottom of the first inning to put the North ahead for good.  Chandler Moon of Sheffield singled and scored on Phillip Edwards’ sacrifice fly in the third inning. Edwards also had one hit. McCormack, pitched well in game one, had a hit and run scored, picked up an RBI in game two to capture North MVP honors. Peyton Wilson of Hoover also doubled and had an RBI for the North, which now holds a 23-12-1 edge in  the series dating back to 1997.
    St. Paul’s Jake Holifield, the South starting pitcher in game two, allowed only one hit but gave up the first two runs to get the loss. He had a hit in each game and drove in a run to earn South MVP honors. Reece Solar of Alabama Christian and David Warren of Providence Christian each drove in a run for the South in the second game.

All-Star Sports Week Results
Game 1: South 3, North 2
Game 2: North 6, South 2
Girls: North 2, South 0
Game 1: South 3, North 0

Series Records (Through 2018)
Football –
South leads 30-26-2
Boys Basketball – North leads 48-27
Girls Basketball – North leads 18-3

Baseball – North leads 23-12-1
Softball – North leads 25-21-3
Boys Soccer – North leads 11-4-1

Girls Soccer – North leads 15-2-1

Volleyball – North leads 14-6

Boys Cross Country – North leads 1-0

Girls Cross Country – North leads 1-0

ASWA Names 2018 Mr. Baseball and Miss Softball

MONTGOMERY –  The Alabama Sports Writers Association named St. Luke's Jeremiah Jackson Mr. Baseball and Brantley's Leanna Johnson Miss Softball during Sunday’s annual banquet at Montgomery’s Embassy Suites Hotel.


ASWA also honored Pleasant Valley volleyball player Anna Bryant with the Jimmy Smothers Courage Award.


Jackson led St. Luke's to the Class 2A state semifinals, batting .637 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 34 games. Jackson hit .439 with 34 homers, 199 RBIs and 152 walks in his career, helping the Wildcats to a pair of state titles.


He was picked No. 57 overall in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.


Jackson heads the Super All-State list and is joined by Homewood's Josh Hall, Auburn's Brooks Fuller, Andalusia's Ethan Wilson, Sweet Water's Jonah Smith, Hoover's Sonny DiChiria, Cullman's Will Morrison, Headland's Chase Wilkerson, Mobile Christian's Ethan Hearn and G.W. Long's Dylan Register.


Troy signee Johnson led Brantley to the Class 1A state championship with a 48-4 record, posting a state-best 536 strikeouts and 31 shutouts with an 0.45 ERA. She also batted .374 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs.


She helped the Bulldogs to state titles in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Johnson is the first Class 1A player selected Miss Softball.


Johnson leads the Super All-State softball list along with Springville's Abby Swaney, Fairhope's Samantha Yarbrough, Spain Park's Annabelle Widra, Thompson's Lauren Haskins, Daphne's Kennedy Cronan, Baker's Victoria Ortiz, Wilson's Johnna Staggs, G.W. Long's Olivia Baker and Macon-East's Taylor McKinney.


Jackson is the 20th Mr. Baseball and first St. Luke's player to win the award. No player has repeated as Mr. Baseball


Johnson is the 16th Miss Softball and first Brantley player to earn the honor. Grissom’s Anna Thompson is the only two-time Miss Softball winner, earning the award in 2004 and 2006.


Only Pisgah, Hueytown and Baker have multiple winners in the 16-year history of the award.


Pisgah’s Holly Currie won the first Miss Softball award in 2003 and Shelby Holley won in 2011. Hueytown’s Lindsey Dunlap won in 2008 and Leigh Streetman won in 2010 while Baker’s Tara Donaldson won in 2005 and Lacey Sumerlin in 2015.


Pleasant Valley's Bryant starred in volleyball and also played softball until her sophomore year when a foul ball screamed into the dugout and struck her in the head. She was diagnosed with a slow brain bleed, requiring surgery and months of rehabilitation.


Bryant returned to volleyball her junior season and was MVP of the Calhoun County tourney as a senior. She was a Bryant-Jordan Achievement Award winner.


2018 ASWA Super All-State Baseball

Mr. Baseball: Jeremiah Jackson, St. Luke’s

Josh Hall, Homewood

Brooks Fuller, Auburn

Ethan Wilson, Andalusia

Jonah Smith, Sweet Water

Sonny DiChiria, Hoover

Will Morrison, Cullman

Chase Wilkerson, Headland

Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian

Dylan Register, G.W. Long


ASWA Mr. Baseball Winners

2018: Jeremiah Jackson, St. Luke’s

2017: Tanner Burns, Decatur

2016: Owen Lovell, Cullman

2015: Brax Garrett, Florence

2014: Cody Reed, Ardmore

2013: Keegan Thompson, Cullman

2012: Mikey White, Spain Park

2011: Daniel Koger, Huntsville

2010: Daryl Norris, Fairhope

2009: Luke Bole, Hartselle

2008: Tyler Stovall, Hokes Bluff

2007: John David Smelser, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa

2006: Del Howell, American Christian

2005: Colby Rasmus, Russell County

2004: Patrick White, Daphne

2003: Joey Doan, Baker

2002: Allen Ponder, Lee-Scott Academy

2001: Eric West, Southside-Gadsden

2000: Wade Miller, G.W. Long

1999: Matthew Maniscalco, Oxford


2018 ASWA Super All-State Softball

Miss Softball: Leanna Johnson, Brantley

Abby Swaney, Springville

Samantha Yarbrough, Fairhope

Annabelle Widra, Spain Park

Lauren Haskins, Thompson

Kennedy Cronan, Daphne

Victoria Ortiz, Baker

Johnna Staggs, Wilson

Olivia Baker, G.W. Long

Taylor McKinney, Macon-East


ASWA Miss Softball Winners

2018: Leanna Johnson, Brantley

2017: Annie Willis, Westminster Christian

2016: Ashlee Swindle, Curry

2015: Lacey Sumerlin, Baker

2014: Madi Moore, Winfield

2013: Kasey Cooper, Dothan

2012: Haylie McCleney, Mortimer Jordan

2011: Shelby Holley, Pisgah

2010: Leigh Streetman, Hueytown

2009: Hilary Phillips, Ider

2008: Lindsey Dunlap, Hueytown

2007: Whitney Larsen, Vestavia Hills

2006: Anna Thompson, Grissom

2005: Tara Donaldson, Baker

2004: Anna Thompson, Grissom

2003: Holly Currie, Pisgah

CLASS 7A STATE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME 2: Auburn 1, Hewitt-Trussville 0 (Auburn wins championship)

GAME 2: Auburn 1, Hewitt-Trussville 0 (Auburn wins championship)
MONTGOMERY – Senior Drew Jennings turned in a stellar pitching performance Saturday in game two of the Class 7A State Baseball Championship Series art Riverwalk Stadium and shut out Hewitt-Trussville 1-0 to seal the Tigers’ fourth state championship and first since 2010.
    Jennings (10-2) allowed just three hits, had two walks and struck out six – but more importantly, pitched out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings to notch the final game victory. His superb effort came just 18 hours just 16 hours after teammate Brooks Fuller hurled four-hitter in game one to beat the Huskies 4-1.
     Coach Matt Cimo’s Tigers (34-8) limited Hewitt-Trussville (32-11) to just one run and seven hits in the series. Coach Jeff Mauldin’s staff also pitched well, blanking Auburn in 13 of the 15 innings played, held the Tigers to nine total hits and five total runs.
     Michael Fowler started Saturday for the Huskies pitched the first inning allowing one hit and no runs before leaving the game with soreness in his arm.  Davis Burgin hurled the final six innings, allowing only three hits, one run and striking out three.
    That one run turned out to be the big one. Auburn lead-off hitter Garrett Morris drew a walk to open the top of the third inning, stole second and went to third on Griffin Speaks’ bunt single. Jackson Arnold followed with a sacrifice fly to right field and Morris scored. It would be the only run the Tigers could muster all day but it was enough.
     Jennings, who earned Class 7A series MVP honors, ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Tyler Mauldin, who had two hits, singled with two outs. Creed Parker was inserted as a pinch runner and moved to second when Caden Kirk drew a walk.  Parker and Kirk double steals to move to second and third, but Jennings struck the next batter out to snuff the rally.
    In the seventh inning, Jacob Bishop singled to opening the inning, advanced to second on a throwing error and moved to third on Zach Defnall’s sacrifice bunt. Jennings then got the next two batters to ground out to end the game.
    Mauldin finished two singles an Bishop had the hit for Hewitt. Speaks had two hits for the Tigers, Ryan Lambert and Tanner Jones had the other hits.
    Hewitt-Trussville beat Auburn in 2016 to win the school’s only 7A state title. Auburn returned in 2017 falling to Hoover in the finals. The Tigers won championships previously in 1986, 2009 and 2010.
    The 7A series ended the 63rd AHSAA State Baseball Championships, which were held annually from 1948 to 1961 for large schools,  discontinued from 1962-69 and reinstated in 1970 completing its 49th season in the current format of separate classification championships.
    It has been played annually in Montgomery since 2001.


GAME 1: Auburn 4, Hewitt-Trussville 1
MONTGOMERY – Senior Brooks Fuller pitched a four-hitter and struck out eight in the AHSAA Class 7A State Baseball Championship Series opener at Paterson Field Friday night as Auburn posted a 4-1 victory over Hewitt-Trussville to take a 1-0 edge into the best 2-of-3 series Saturday.

    Coach Matt Cimo’s Tigers (33-8) and Coach Jeff Mauldin’s Huskies (32-10) play game two Saturday morning at 10 a.m., as the series moves to Riverwalk Stadium. If a third game is needed, it will follow 30 minutes after completion of game two. The 7A series close the
2018 AHSAA Championships. All games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
   Hewitt-Trussville hurler Carson Skipper also pitched well allowing five hits, two walks and striking out eight in a contest that took just 1:46 to complete.
    He shut out the Tigers for five innings and held a 1-0 lead until Auburn posted four runs in the top of the sixth. Huskies second baseman Tyler Mauldin gave his team the lead with an RBI single in the fourth inning to plate courtesy runner Austin Bittle, who was running for Skipper. The Hewitt pitcher opened the inning with a single and Bittle advanced into scoring position on a throwing error. Mauldin then singled to left to plate the run.
    Auburn, which left two runners on base in the second and fifth innings, finally took the lead in the top of the sixth. Right fielder Teddy Benda doubled to start the inning and Jake Waters then reached safely on a sacrifice bunt fielder’s choice and Benda moved to third. Carter Hunt then drove in Benda when he reached first on an infield error, and Tanner Jones drove in the second run on a Huskies throwing error. Clayton Phillips singled to drive in the final two runs before Skipper got out of the jam.
    Fuller struck out the final two Hewitt hitters in the seventh to end the game.

CLASS 6A STATE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME 3: Hazel Green 1, Helena 0 (Hazel Green is state champ)

GAME 3: Hazel Green 1, Helena 0 (Hazel Green is state champ)
MONTGOMERY – Hazel Green High School Coach Frankie Perez said he learned early on in his first season as the Trojans’ head baseball coach that in a clutch situation, he and the team wanted to ball in the hand of senior left-handed pitcher Tyler Duskin.
   Friday night, Perez did just that and Duskin did not disappoint the Hazel Green faithful. Duskin hurled a five-hit shutout in game three of the AHSAA’s Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series as the Trojans nipped Helena 1-0, and Hazel Green (32-13) captured the school’s first-ever state baseball title.

    The Trojans won game one of the series 4-3 on Thursday night at Paterson Field, then fell in game two at Riverwalk Stadium, the home of the Southern League Montgomery Biscuits, 3-1 in game two to force the final game of the best 2-of-3 series.
   Duskin (8-2) was masterful from start to finish. He struck out six, walked none and pitched out a jam only a couple of times thanks to his sharp fastball and excellent control.
    Helena (27-16), making its third appearance in the state finals for Coach P.J. Guy, got a strong pitching performance from Landon Green in game two and also got a solid effort from game three starter Brooks Tolbert (4-5) and reliever Josh Daugherty. Tolbert pitched five innings, gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out one. Daughtery closed out with two shutout innings.
    The Trojans got the only run of the game in the top of the fourth when junior shortstop Bradley Hulin walked, moved to second on Hunter McGriff’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Jordan Beck’s single up the middle. With Duskin on the mound, that run would be enough.
     Helena got a runner to third base in the bottom of the fourth but Duskin got the last out on an infield grounder. The Huskies got another runner to third in the fifth but Dusking struck out the next two hitters to close that rally. With runners on second and third in the sixth inning, Duskin pitched out of the jam by getting the Helena batter to pop up to catcher Chandler Hardin for the third out.
    And in the seventh inning, Landon Green battled the left-hander for 11 pitches, fouling off seven strikes before grounding out to Hulin at short. Duskin then retired the side to seal the victory and the state title.
   The two teams each scored six runs in the series and mirrored each other with their solid defense, excellent pitching and timely hitting in what turned out to be one of the top championship series in the history of the baseball playoffs since it moved to its current format 17 years ago.

GAME 2: Helena 3, Hazel Green 1
Helena senior pitcher Landon Green (12-1) tossed six-hitter and struck out three to pace the Huskies to a 3-1 win over Hazel Green in  second game of the AHSAA 2018 Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series Friday afternoon at Riverwalk Stadium to force game 3.
    Coach P.J. Guy’s Huskies (27-15) took the lead in the first inning John Stephen Heacock singled in Brody Moss, who opened the inning with a walk. Hazel Green (31-13) tied the game in the top of the third when Bradley Hulin walked and later scored on Jordan Beck’s sinking liner that turned into a sacrifice fly caught by Helena’s Trevor Bell.
    Helena regained the lead in the bottom of the third Richard Fitts singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Heacock’s second RBI single of the game.  The Huskies added an insurance run in the fourth inning when Josh Daugherty singled and pinch runner Tristan Waters scored when Trevor Bell doubled to left.
    Coach Frankie Perez’s two hurlers, starter Jackson Minor (3-4) and Hayden Lindsey, combined to scatter seven hits. Lindsey struck out six in 3 2/3 innings of relief.


GAME 2: Helena 3, Hazel Green 1
MONTGOMERY – Helena High School senior pitcher Landon Green (12-1) tossed six-hitter and struck out three to pace the Huskies to a 3-1 win over Hazel Green in  second game of the AHSAA 2018 Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series Friday afternoon at Riverwalk Stadium to tie the series at 1-1. Game three got underway 30 minutes later.
    Coach P.J. Guy’s Huskies (27-15) took the lead in the first inning John Stephen Heacock singled in Brody Moss, who opened the inning with a walk. Hazel Green (31-13) tied the game in the top of the third when Bradley Hulin walked and later scored on Jordan Beck’s sinking liner that turned into a sacrifice fly caught by Helena’s Trevor Bell.
    Helena regained the lead in the bottom of the third Richard Fitts singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Heacock’s second RBI single of the game.  The Huskies added an insurance run I nthe fourth inning Josh Daugherty singled and pinch runner Tristan Waters scored when Trevor Bell doubled to left.
    Coach Frankie Perez’s two hurlers, starter Jackson Minor (3-4) and Hayden Lindsey, combined to scatter seven hits. Lindsey struck out six in 3 2/3 innings of relief.
    The Class 7A championship series also opened Friday at 6 p.m. at Paterson Field with Hewitt-Trussville (32-9) facing Auburn (35-7). The 7A series close the AHSAA Championships Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium with game two at 10 a.m.
    All championship series games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
The AHSAA Softball Championships is underway at Lagoon Park today through Saturday.

CLASS 5A STATE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME 2: Faith Academy 7, Russellville 3 (Faith is state champion)

GAME 2: Faith Academy 7, Russellville 3 (Faith is state champion)

MONTGOMERY – The third time was the charm for Faith Academy’s baseball team Friday morning as the Rams beat Russellville 7-3 to complete the sweep of the AHSA Class 5A State  5A State Baseball Championship Series at Riverwalk Stadium.
   Russellville (30-16) won the 5A title in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – beating Faith Academy in the finals the last two seasons. This year’s finals belonged to Coach Matt Seymour’s Rams (36-3).
     Sophomore pitcher Eli Giles (8-1), who pitched the final two outs of Thursday night’s 5-3 win in game one to notch a save, hurled six strong innings Friday allowing only four hits, one earned run and striking out eight to get the win. He was also named the Class 5A series MVP.
    Faith Academy pecked away at Russellville from the get-go scoring a single run in the first, third and fifth innings to take a 3-1 lead into the top of the sixth. Senior catcher Chris Sargent delivered a bases-loaded double to clear the bases and then pinch runner Brandon White added the fourth run of the inning scoring on John Griffin Bell’s suicide squeeze bunt.
    Coach Chris Heaps’ Golden Tigers scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and relief pitcher James Flynn shut done Russellville in the seventh inning to seal the win.

     Faith Academy got eight total hits with Braxton Bell had a double and two singles, John Griffin Bell had one hit and two RBIs, Jackson Bell had the double and three RBIs, and Reece Ewing had two hits.
    Starting pitcher Rudy Fernandez (6-4) pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowed five hits, two earned runs and struck out two for Russellville. Houston Kitterman had a single and RBI while Brock Malone, Devin Buckhalter and Fernandez each had one hit for the Tigers.
     The Class 6A series between Helena (26-15) and Hazel Green (31-12) gets underway at 4 p.m., today at Riverwalk. The Trojans won Thursday’s game 4-3 and holds a 1-0 edge in the best 2-of-3 series.
    The Class 7A championship series opens Friday at 6 p.m. at Paterson Field with Hewitt-Trussville (32-9) facing Auburn (35-7). The 7A series close the AHSAA Championships Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium with game two at 10 a.m.
    All championship series games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
The AHSAA Softball Championships is underway at Lagoon Park today through Saturday.


GAME 1: Hazel Green 4, Helena 3

MONTGOMERY – Hazel Green scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning fought off a late Helena rally to win 4-3 in the first game of the AHSAA 2018 Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series Thursday night at Paterson Field.
    The Trojans (31-12) and Huskies (26-15) will play game 2 in the best 2-of-3 series at Riverwalk Stadium Friday at 4 p.m. Game three, if needed, will follow.
    Helena took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when John Stephen Heacock doubled and scored on Landon Green’s double.
    The Trojans answered in a big way in the bottom of the inning, using two timely hits, a fielder’s choice and a throwing error to score all four runs. Austin Tatum’s bases-loaded single started the second inning rally for Coach Frankie Perez’s Trojans. Bradley Hulin’s single plated the fourth run and Hazel Green led 4-1.
    Helena hurler Richard Fitts shut down the Trojans the rest of the way, allowing just two more hits and finishing with 13 strikeouts in six innings.  Isaiah Magwood pitched 4 1/3 innings for Hazel Green, leaving in the fifth after the Huskies plated two more runs when Luke Stamba singled, moved to third on a single by Trevor Bell and scored on an infield error. Bell later scored on a balk before reliever Nathan Giles came in and pitched Hazel Green out of the jam.
   Magwood allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three in a solid performance. Giles allowed one hit in one inning of work and Hunter McGriff pitched the final 1 2/3 innings striking out two to get the save.
    Heacock and Stamba each had two hits for Coach P.J. Guy’s Huskies. Hulin and Tatum each had a hit and RBI for Hazel Green.
    The Class 7A championship series opens Friday at 6 p.m. at Paterson Field with Hewitt-Trussville (32-9) facing Auburn (35-7). The 7A series close the AHSAA Championships Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium with game two at 10 a.m.
    All championship series games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
The AHSAA Softball Championships is underway at Lagoon Park today through Saturday.