Chelsea moves past Shelby Co.

Last year, the Chelsea Hornets had to fend off the Shelby County Wildcats late in the season to secure its lead in the area. Friday, the Hornets went ahead and took care of business, beating the rain and sweeping the Wildcats, 5-3 and 8-5, in an area game and tiebreak doubleheader.

“It’s huge to get the first one because the area is so competitive this year with four really competitive teams,” Chelsea head coach Jason Smith said.

Game one was the first Class 5A, Area 8 game of the year for the Hornets and Wildcats, as Chelsea’s Blake Woo and Shelby County’s Braten Dill took to the mound. Woo picked up the win after four innings of work, striking out six and allowing one earned run off five hits. Blake Yance took over for Woo with a 5-1 lead in the fifth and closed, striking out seven of the nine outs he needed. Yance loaded the bases in the seventh with no outs, allowing two unearned runs in the inning off one hit.

Offensively, Zac Hilliard led the Hornets with two hits, including a two-out triple that scored two in the fourth inning to stretch the lead to 5-1.

The win ties the Hornets for the Area 8 lead with Briarwood Christian, who beat John Carroll earlier in the week.

Game two was played as a head-to-head tiebreaker in the area, a game Chelsea won last year after losing to Shelby County in the first are game. This year, a four-run third inning helped give the Hornets an advantage over the Wildcats for the season.

Josh Harkins, Hank Tinnell and Harris Smith staffed the pitching for Chelsea, striking out a combined 14 batters. Tinnell picked up the win after pitching the fourth and fifth innings, while Harris Smith recorded a save.

John Calhoun scored three runs for the Hornets in the game and Jake Campbell had two hits and two RBIs.

Wesley Howard led Shelby County with five hits in the game. Kevin McNorton was 2-for-4 in the second game with a home run, while Garrett Sellers was 3-for-3 in the nightcap with a single, double, triple and three RBIs. Chad King scored two runs for the Wildcats in the first game.

Chelsea (9-6, 1-0) will travel to Gulf Shores for a Spring Break tournament next week, facing Thompson on Monday. Shelby County will face Demopolis Monday in a Spring Break tournament at Wetumpka High School.