‘Round the horn County teams line up for region play, county tournament

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Shelby County’s high school baseball season hit full throttle this week with five teams competing in the Shelby County tournament and several others facing tough matchups in area and region play.

Shelby County, Chelsea, Montevallo, Vincent and Calera square off this week to determine the winner of the southern bracket of the Shelby County Tournament. The team crowned southern champion will take on Pelham High School, which won the northern bracket competition in late February, to determine the Shelby County Tournament champion.

Pelham, Thompson, Briarwood and Oak Mountain all recently began area and region play and several AISA teams like Cornerstone Christian have begun their seasons and are bracing for area games in the coming weeks.

Shelby County High School

Coach Shane Beasley’s Wildcats defeated Montevallo in the opening game of the Shelby County tournament Monday after splitting games with the Bulldogs in a doubleheader last Friday.

SCHS (5-3) has relied on explosive offense early in the season. The Wildcats are averaging 12 runs per game and are hitting .378 as a team.

But Beasley said pitching may be the factor that determines whether Shelby County can complete its first winning season in several years.

&uot;Pitching is going to be key. We’re trying to develop our pitching,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re trying to build our program up a little bit here.&uot;

The Wildcats’ pitching was solid in their first game with Montevallo Friday night as Brandon Burns struck out five in four innings to lead Shelby County to a 7-5 win. Justin Mallory struck out two batters and gave up three runs in the win.

Robert Bolton gave support from the plate with a home run and 2 RBIs. Danson Thornburg hit two singles and had one RBI while Dave Cofer went 2-for-3.

Pitching, however, was also the Wildcats’ nemesis in the second game as they fell to Montevallo 17-15.

Mallory righted the ship on Monday, going all five innings in Shelby County’s 17-5 win. Mallory fanned six and gave up only five hits in the win, while Shelby County batters totaled 14 hits.

Senior third basemen Drew Holsomback hit a two-run home run and Cofer went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Steven Barrow had four RBIs for Shelby County and went 4-for-4 with a double and three singles.

&uot;He’s got so much speed and he can make so much happen,&uot; Beasley said of the fleet-footed shortstop.

Thompson High School

The Warriors got off to a 3-0 start in area play after downing two class 5A, area 7 opponents last week.

Three Thompson batters hit home runs, including a grand slam by Malachi Gandy, as the Warriors thumped Brookwood 20-0 on the road last Tuesday.

Ryan Chase went 3-for-4 with 2 home runs while Robert Schofield added a home run. Gandy was 2-for-4 on the evening while Chris Myles and Daniel Hamlin each went 2-for-3 for Thompson.

Austin Lucas had five strikeouts and allowed two hits in three innings to record the win. Ryan Chase pitched two innings for THS.

Thompson picked up its third area win last Friday, defeating Northridge 7-4.

Lucas fanned two batters in five-and-one-third innings to pick up the win. Chase came on in relief, pitching one-and-two-thirds innings for the save.

The Warriors hosted Briarwood Christian yesterday. Results were unavailable at presstime. Thompson will travel to Stanhope of Elmore today.

Briarwood Christian School

After getting off to a slow start, the Lions seem to have found some resurgence where it matters most &045; area play.

Briarwood (5-10) moved to 2-0 in Class 5A, Area 7 behind the arm of power pitcher Jimbo Crew, who tossed his second career no-hitter last Tuesday against McAdory.

&uot;We’ve got a very talented team,&uot; said Briarwood coach Adam Sullivan. &uot;We’ve got several players who will go on to play college ball.&uot;

Shortstop Joe Craddock, who played quarterback for the Lions’ state championship football team, has already signed a scholarship to play football and baseball for Middle Tennessee State University.

Crew has generated some Division I interest while senior second basemen Matt Williams is also expected to play baseball at the college level.

The Lions downed Corner last Thursday,13-4, before splitting a doubleheader with Chelsea on Saturday.

BCS edged the Hornets 8-7 in a nine-inning contest before getting blanked by Chelsea 0-6 in the seven-inning late game.

The Lions were scheduled to play at Thompson yesterday. Results were unavailable at presstime. They will host Homewood tonight at 7 p.m.

Calera High School

After rain and an extended basketball season hampered their schedule, the Eagles entered Monday’s Shelby County tournament matchup with Montevallo having played only one game.

Many of Calera’s players joined the baseball team late after the boys basketball team made it all the way to the state finals.

Pitching coach Scott Gafford also made a late arrival to the diamond. Gafford coached the Lady Eagles in their first-ever trip to the AHSAA final four.

&uot;There are a lot of positives with what both basketball teams bring to the school, but it’s caused us to start a little slow,&uot; said Calera baseball coach Ken Copen.

The Eagles are led by senior outfielder and pitcher Jake Garzareck, pitcher/first basemen Dusty Downs and shortstop Jay Haynes.

&uot;Once we get into the season and get into area play, we should have some strong pitching,&uot; Copen said.

&uot;We’ve got a lot of young kids so early in the year. We’re going to have to coach through some nerves.&uot;

Cornerstone Christian School

Senior catcher Jeremy Walden and freshman pitcher Jon Ray have led the Chargers to a 3-0 start.

Beau Beggs struck out 11 batters and walked three in five innings as Cornerstone beat IMS 16-0 last Friday in Mobile. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, a triple and two runs.

Ty Youngblood went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs and Heath Smith went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs for Cornerstone.

Walden went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs and hit his second home run of the season in the win.

&uot;We really played well defensively Friday night,&uot; said Cornerstone coach Tim Smith.

Ray picked up his second win of the season in Saturday’s game with IMS after striking out 14 batters in seven innings. He walked three and gave up seven hits in the outing.

Walden went 2-for-3 with a triple and 2 RBIs while Karl Martin knocked in a run and Casey Crumpton had a double.

Cornerstone played Evangel Christian Monday.

Results were unavailable at presstime