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Class 2A Baseball Championship Series -- Game 2 Mobile Christian Nips Randolph County 3-2 to Sweep Title

   MONTGOMERY  -- Mobile Christian scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead, then relied on clutch pitching a clutch defense to hold off Randolph County late and claimed a 3-2 victory to give the Leopards the AHSAA Class 2A state baseball championship.
     Mobile Christian (30-12) managed just four hits off Randolph County starter Danny Simpson (10-4) – the big one a double in the first inning by center fielder Grayson Williams to plate courtesy runners Luke Jones and Thompson Eastman for the first two runs for Coach Talley Haines’ Leopards.
     Simpson went distance allowing three runs and striking out one for Coach Pat Prestridge’s Tigers (24-9). Randolph County played near flawless defense turning two double plays and committing only one error.
      Anthony Edwards had a single and scored the third run for Mobile Christian.
      Left-hander Tucker Powell (4-2) started and went 4 2/3 innings for the Leopards yielding three hits, walking five and striking out six to get the win.
      Hunter Avery, who pitched five innings to get the win in Wednesday night’s 15-2 first-game triumph, relieved Powell with the bases loaded and the Leopards holding a one-run lead in the fifth. Avery pitched out of the jam by getting the last out and hurled the sixth inning to earn the 2A series MVP.  Will Irwin pitched the seventh inning allowing one hit and no runs to get the save.
      Avery had a double and six RBIs in game one and collected one of the four Leopards hits in game two.
     Hunter Ray had two hits, and J.R. Roundtree slugged a two-RBI double in the fifth for the Tigers.
     Randolph County and Mobile Christian were each making their first appearances in the AHSAA state baseball finals.

Class 4A Baseball Championship Series -- Game 1 Trinity Presbyterian 3, Brooks 2

   MONTGOMERY  -- Trinity Presbyterian High School junior pitcher Robert Adams pitched a complete game and  collected four hits at the plate to lead the Wildcats to a 3-2 win over Brooks Wednesday night in the AHSAA Class 4A state baseball championship series at Paterson Field.
     The game-one win sends Trinity (30-9-1) into game two at 10 a.m. at Riverwalk Stadium Thursday with a 1-0 edge in the best-of-three series.   Adams (10-1) scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out nine.  He opened the game with a single as Coach Ken Whittle’s Wildcats posted two runs in the top of the first inning. Trinity added another run off Brooks pitcher Tanner Graham in the second inning, but Graham (9-1) settled down to blank the Wildcats the rest of the way.
     Graham gave up eight hits, walked four and struck out six in his complete-game effort – getting stronger as the game moved along.
    Brooks, which stranded 12 runners for the game, scored one run in the fifth and had runners on second and third in the sixth and scored one run when Dustin Henson drilled a hard grounder back up the middle. Trinity shortstop Michael Sellers made a diving stab to keep the ball in the infield, a play that kept Coach Todd Nelms’ Lions (34-13) from tying the score.
000    John Hall had a double and RBI and Dalton Hill had an RBI single for Trinity.
    Henson finished with two hits for Brooks. Riley Phillips and Tucker Wilsdorf also had two hits for  the Lions.
     Game two is set for 4 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium Thursday afternoon. Should a third game be needed in the best-of-three series, it will follow immediately at approximately 7 p.m. Like Wednesday’s game, the final two games will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
     Madison Academy and Geneva play at Paterson Field at 4 p.m. in game one of the Class 3A championship series Thursday, and Helena faces Russellville in the 5A series opener at 7 at Paterson.

Class 2A Baseball Championship Series -- Game 1 Mobile Christian 15, Randolph County 2

   MONTGOMERY  -- Mobile Christian pounded 15 hits en route to a 15-2 victory over Randolph County in the first game of the AHSAA Class 2A state baseball championship series Wednesday afternoon at Paterson Field.
    Coach Talley Haines’ Leopards (29-12) scored four runs in the second inning – the big hit coming from winning pitcher Hunter Avery, who drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off the left-field wall. Avery (11-0) finished the day with one hit and six RBIs.  He allowed just three hits over five innings and struck out five to get the mound win.
   Mobile Christian closed out the six-inning game with six runs in the top of the sixth.
    Logan Gill, Tucker Powell and Trent Avery each had three hits for the Leopards. Chris George and Sam Ladner had two hits each with Ladner driving in three runs.
    Elijah McFarland (12-3) went 4 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and striking out five to get the loss. McFarland, Christian Benefield, Danny Simpson and Levi Phillips each had one hit for Coach Pat Prestridge’s Tigers(24-8).
     Game two is set for 10 a.m. at Riverwalk Stadium Thursday morning. Should a third game be needed in the best-of-three series, it will follow immediately at approximately 1 p.m. Like Wednesday’s game, the final two games will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network.


Class 1A Baseball Championship Series -- Game 2 Shoals Christian Beats Brantley 6-4 to Sweep 1A Series

   MONTGOMERY  -- Senior pitcher Josh Vardeman scattered eight hits, allowed one earned run and struck out eight as Shoals Christian beat Brantley 6-4 in game two of the AHSAA Class 1A state baseball championship series Wednesday as the Flame won the 2015 state championship.
     Vardeman (8-1) threw only 90 pitches walking only one.
     Shoals Christian (23-8) trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning but rallied for one run to pull to 4-3. Coach Jason Anderson’s Flame then exploded for three runs in the sixth to seal the victory. Shoals Christian won game 1 on Tuesday night 7-2.
     Vardeman also had two doubles and a single and Dale Thomas added two hits for Shoals Christian. Junior center fielder Tanner Bozeman, who went 1-for-2 with two walks in game two, earned MVP honors for the Flame. Bozeman pitched the game one win and was 3-of-5 with a double, three RBIs, two walks and one hit by pitch to reach based six of his eight appearances.
     Brantley (15-19), coached by Greg Evans, got a solid pitching effort from Jacob Free (5-3). The sophomore yielded nine hits and three earned runs while striking out five.   Catcher Tate Tatom slugged two doubles including on off the top of the left-field wall for a near home run.  Right fielder Mack Wise had a triple and two RBIs, and lead-off hitter Riley Jobin had double and single and finished the series 5-for-8.
    The state title was the fourth in school history for Shoals Christian – all under Anderson’s direction. The Flame also won in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  Brantley won its only state title in 2009.

Class 1A Baseball Championship Series -- Game 1 Shoals Christian Beats Brantley 7-2 to Open Series

   MONTGOMERY  -- Winning pitcher Tanner Bozeman’s bases-loaded double in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday night drove in two important runs and  propelled Shoals Christian to a 7-2 win over Brantley as the 2015 AHSAA Class 1A state baseball championship series got underway here at Paterson Field.
    The Flame (22-18) and Bulldogs (15-18) meet in game two as the best two-of-three series moves to Riverwalk Stadium Wednesday at 10 a.m.  Should as third game be needed, it will start after the first game at approximately 1 p.m.
    Bozeman (7-3), a junior left-hander, allowed 11 hits and struck out five to pitch the complete game. Batting lead-off, he had two hits, scored a run and drove in three – two coming in the big sixth inning.
    Brantley, which started its season for Coach Greg Evans at 1-9, trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning with the bases loaded when an attempted steal at home ended the inning. Coach Jason Anderson’s Flame rallied from that exceptional defensive play by catcher Johnathan Brock to score four runs and turned the one-run game into a 5-0 deficit.  Trenton Gillis followed in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run homer over the left-field wall to extend the lead to 7-0.
     The Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the seventh to plate two runs on Jacob Free’s RBI double and Tate Tatum’s RBI single.
      Shoals Christian managed nine hits and four earned runs off Brantley hurler Tommy Spivey (3-6), who also struck out five in a complete-game effort.  Bozeman and Gillis each had two hits for the Flame and Josh Vardeman slugged a double.
    Centerfielder Riley Jobin had three hits to pace Brantley. Adrian Person and Spivey also had two hits.
    The Class 2A championship series between Mobile Christian and Randolph County gets underway at 4 p.m. at Paterson Field Wednesday, and the Class 4A series opens at 7 p.m. with Trinity Presbyterian taking on Brooks, also at Paterson Field. All baseball series games are being live-streamed by the NFHS Network. Details on the broadcast can be found at www.ahsaa.com.
   The AHSAA state softball tournament also starts at Lagoon Park Wednesday morning with Class 7A opening play at 10 a.m. The NFHS Network will live-stream all the finals in the double-elimination softball competition.

Washington County’s Randall Coxwell Hurls Perfect Game to Clinch Area Title

   Washington County High School senior right-hander Randall Coxwell fired a perfect game to beat Southern Choctaw 7-0 Saturday as the Bulldogs claimed the Class 2A, Area 2 baseball championship with the win. The 6-foot-4 Coxwell struck out 17 and allowed four ground-ball outs to face only 21 batters in the seven-inning gem.  Two of the groundouts were back to the pitcher, thus giving him an even more direct hand in 19 of the 21 outs.
     Coxwell, who has signed with Shelton State Community College of Tuscaloosa, is currently 8-0 with two saves on the season with 87 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings pitched – 1.95 strikeouts per inning. He has walked only eight and has compiled a 0.30 ERA.
     “Randall is the most complete baseball player I have ever had the chance to coach,” said Washington County principal and head baseball coach David Wofford. “He is also on track to be our valedictorian.”
     Coxwell goes into this week’s games with 27 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He has allowed only three hits in that stretch – all singles – and has allowed only eight hits this season – and no extra base hits. He had threw only 71 pitches in the perfect game and had another complete game with only 57 pitches thrown.
     When he isn’t pitching, he is playing third base. He is hitting .500 with three home runs, three doubles and one triple.
     Wofford, currently the president of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association, said he was pressed into coaching this year’s team when head coach Chris Wilson resigned to become Straughn High School’s head football coach before the season started.
    Several other top performances highlighted last week’s action.

LANE DICKERSON, COLBERT COUNTY: Hurled a five-inning no-hitter as the Indians beat Lexington 12-0 in a Class 3A, Area 16 baseball game. Dickerson struck out eight and walked three. He also slugged a grand slam to highlight a 10-run first inning and finished 4-for-4 at the plate. Teammate Peyton Stracener added two homers and four RBIs.

DILAN SAYER, EAST LIMESTONE:
Scored six goals on 10 shots-on-goal to help East Limestone beat Elkmont 10-0 in a  boys’ soccer match. Sayer, a senior, now has 28 goals on the season and 138 for his career. He currently ranks fifth in AHSAA history behind all-time career scoring leader Ryan Kirschbaum of Priceville, who scored 153 goals from 2002-06. Fairhope’s Ryan Strachan (2004-06) is second with 145 goals. Michael Ritch of St. James (1997-99) and Sam Tvrdy of St. Bernard (1995-99) are tied for third with 143 goals each. Sayer has scored six goals in a match twice and five goals once this season.

SEAN COLLINS, McGILL-TOOLEN: The Yellow Jackets’ senior pole vaulter, despite a strong head wind,  went over 17 feet for the second straight week as in the Challenge of Champions meet at Mobile last weekend.  His 17-feet, 3-inch leap set a new meet record and is the best of any AHSAA high schooler on record. Collins set the AHSAA indoor state record last February with a 16-4¾ clearance at the CrossPlex in Birmingham to win the Class 7A state title.
MARGARET OLLINGER, McGILL-TOOLEN: Ollinger, a junior, cleared 13-3 to set a new meet record for the girls at the Mobile Challenge of Champions meet. She set a new state indoor record winning the 7A title with going 12-4¼ at the CrossPlex.

AMARIS TYYNISMAA, MONTGOMERY-CATHOLIC:
Clocked the fastest prep 2-mile time in the nation with a winning time of 10:49.19 at Mobile last weekend. The eighth grader set a new overall 3,200-meter state record in the AHSAA state indoor meet and also set the overall state girls’ record in winning the Class 4A state cross country title last November.

MATHEW LIKELY, HILLCREST-EVERGREEN:
Clocked the AHSAA’s fastest 100-meter dash time of the 2015 season to win the Wiregrass Invitational Meet race in 10.42 seconds. He also won the 200-meter dash to lead Hillcrest to the boys’ team title at the met hosted by Charles Henderson High School in Troy.

DALE PALMER, SPARKMAN:
Coached the Lady Senators to the Bob Jones Invitational softball tournament championship and clinched the 806th win of his 19-year career. Sparkman (21-7) beat Louisville (KY) Male 5-2 in the finals to close out the competition with six wins in a row. MacKenzie Nutt hit .647 in the tournament with two doubles, two triples and two home runs.  Palmer’s 800th win came earlier in the week versus Section.

High School Baseball, Softball Rules Changes Approved

INDIANAPOLIS — Beginning with the 2015 high school baseball season, teams will be allowed to use video monitoring or replay equipment for coaching purposes during games.

This revision to Rule 3-3-1 was one of five changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 8-10 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Previously, video equipment was permitted but it could not be used during games for coaching purposes.

“With advancements in technology, it was extremely difficult for officials to determine if teams were using video replay during games,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee. “The committee determined it was the right time to permit teams to use these technological aids if they so choose.”

In softball, two rules changes were recommended by the NFHS Softball Rules Committee at its June 16-18 meeting in Indianapolis and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Rules 1-6-1 and 1-7-1 were revised to state that the batting helmet and the catcher’s helmet shall have a non-glare surface (not mirror-like).

Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee, said the committee instituted these changes because helmets that are mirror-like in nature are distracting and could be dangerous for other players.

In other baseball rules changes, the committee expanded the definition of interference in Rule 2-21 to include follow-through interference and backswing interference.

Rule 2-21-4 will state that “follow-through interference is when the ball hits the catcher after the batter has swung at a pitch and hinders action at home plate or the catcher’s attempt to play on a runner,” and Rule 2-21-5 will state that “backswing interference is when a batter contacts the catcher or his equipment prior to the time of the pitch.”

Hopkins said that follow-through interference and backswing interference are separate and distinct acts that previously were not addressed in Rule 2-21. The rule previously covered offensive, umpire and spectator interference.

The rules committee approved a change in Rule 1-5-1 regarding the batting helmet to be consistent with the rule for helmets used by defensive players. As is the case with head protection worn by field players, the batting helmet now must have a non-glare surface (cannot be mirror-like in nature) and meet the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture.

The definition of a foul ball in Rule 2-16-1 was expanded to be consistent with language elsewhere in the rules book. Specifically, Rule 2-16-1f will now state that a foul is a batted ball “that hits the batter in the batter’s box.” Article “g” will state that a foul is a batted ball “that hits the ground or home plate and then hits the batter or the bat which is held by the batter while he is in the batter’s box.”

The final change approved by the Baseball Rules Committee involves the following additional language to Courtesy Runner Rule No. 1: “In the event that the offensive team bats around, the pitcher and/or catcher who had a courtesy runner inserted on their behalf may bat in their normal position in the batting order.”

Baseball is the fourth-most popular sport for boys at the high school level with 474,791 participants in 15,632 schools during the 2012-13 season, according to the NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. Fast-pitch softball is the fifth-most popular sport for girls at the high school level with 362,488 participants in 15,067 schools during the 2012-13 season.