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.

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.