Shelby, Coosa battle for state title

Shelby County is set to crown a high school baseball state champion this week.

Strong rivals Shelby Academy and Coosa Valley Academy square off today at 10 a.m. for game two of the Alabama Independent Schools Association baseball championship at Patterson Field in Montgoemry.

&8220;With Coosa Valley, it doesn&8217;t matter what the sport is, it&8217;s always a big rivalry,&8221; Shelby head coach Mark Windham said.

The two teams met twice during the regular season, with Coosa Valley coming out on top both times, 7-3 on the road and 6-0 at home.

&8220;I really feel like if that&8217;s anything, it&8217;s a very, very, very small advantage,&8221; Coosa Valley head coach Kevin Oakes said. &8220;We&8217;ve played two games and really feel like they gave us their best on the mound both games. The difference in the ball games really was four or five swings.&8221;

Both teams entered the 2007 season as the state runners-up, with Shelby unable to repeat their 2005 state tile in 1A and Coosa Valley falling short of the school&8217;s first ever baseball championship in 2A.

When word was received last season that Coosa was moving to 1A both coaches knew that they would meet in the post season.

&8220;There&8217;s not a day that went by that we didn&8217;t talk about Shelby, because we knew the area championship had to go through Shelby and possibly a run through the playoffs. I wouldn&8217;t have it any other way,&8221; Oakes said.

Now that the post-season meeting is here, Oakes and Windham said over the weekend that they look to put their senior pitchers on the mound in game two today.

Shelby Academy&8217;s Kevin Lackey, currently playing with a sore back after returning from an elbow injury, will face Coosa Valley&8217;s Zac Taylor, who has fanned 119 batters this season, while posting a 0.59 earned run average.

Both pitchers also like to help themselves out at the plate, as Lackey, who says he is looking for Taylor to throw him a lot of fastballs, hit two home runs in last Wednesday&8217;s games with Abbeville. Taylor, expecting curve balls from Lackey, has seven home runs and 55 RBIs on the year.

Game one of the best-of-three series was played Tuesday at noon on the campus of Huntigdon College. Results were not available at press time. Game three, if necessary, will be played at Patterson Field Thursday at 1 p.m