Invading the state playoffs
Oak Mountain and Vincent topped the list of nine Shelby County teams that opened the Alabama High School Athletic Association baseball playoffs Tuesday.
The Eagles (6A) and Yellow Jackets (2A) both swept through area play and county opponents on their way to 20-win seasons and an area championship.
Vincent looks to relive the 2002 season when the Yellow Jackets made the trip to Montgomery to play for a state championship. At the time, this year&8217;s seniors were in the seventh grade.
&8220;After that year this was the year we were looking at getting back,&8221; pitcher/shortstop Justin Smiley said after the Briarwood game last Thursday.
Oak Mountain looks to build off of their run through Class 6A, Area 11 after returning power hitter Kevin Patterson to the lineup last week. They also hope to work Bronson McGriff back into the pitching rotation.
&8220;With me being out and Bronson not pitching, we played a lot better then I thought we would,&8221; said Patterson, who missed all of area play.
&8220;We had guys stepping up left and right getting big hits for us, and I think that showed how deep we are. We&8217;re all feeling good about what we were able to accomplish in probably the best area in the state.&8221;
Oak Mountain head coach Tommy Youngblood knows that it is not just one player who has helped his team reach this point.
&8220;It&8217;s going to take a team effort where everyone is on the field to punch runs across,&8221; Youngblood said.
Shelby County&8217;s nine teams in the playoffs is second only to Jefferson County&8217;s 15 teams. Etowah and Mobile counties follow with seven teams each.
&8220;There are some awfully good baseball coaches and awfully good baseball teams in the county,&8221; said Vincent head coach Dwight Spradley