Shelby Raiders back on track

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2006

After starting the baseball season 1-3, the defending AISA, Class 2A state champion Shelby Academy Raiders began to realize just how much work a repeat title would take.

Head coach Mark Windham&8217;s team bounced back from the rocky start, winning their next 12 games and claiming their region championship for a second-straight year.

&8220;We started finding our identity after those first four games,&8221; Windham said. &8220;We lost four starters off of last year championship team so this year&8217;s squad had to find it&8217;s place.&8221;

Windham admits that most teams have their games against the Raiders marked on their calendars.

&8220;Now that we&8217;ve won a title, everyone is coming at you harder,&8221; he said. &8220;We realized that we are not last year&8217;s team and that we were going to have to work harder this season.&8221;

The Raiders&8217; coach credits the play of a group of that have given their heart to the team this season for its success. Colby Green, Kevin Lackey, Jake Ingram, Josh Kervin and Jamie McClain have all played key roles for the Raiders during their bid for back to back state titles.

&8220;All of these guys have given their best effort this season,&8221; Windham said. &8220;We wouldn&8217;t be where we are without them.&8221;

The Raiders&8217; likely opponent in the first round of the Class 2A, AISA playoffs will be Southern Academy.

&8220;They&8217;re very well coached,&8221; Windham said. &8220;They have one or two spectacular athletes, and the rest of their team is very good.&8221;

Windham was unsure Monday whether that game would be played next Tuesday or Wednesday