Rebels claim AISA baseball championship

Coosa Valley Academy junior Jarrod Mims wasn’t about to let anything stand in the way of his participation during the Rebels’ 2010 baseball season.

Too much was at stake for Mims. So when the 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher suffered a broken left hand in a car accident four games into the season, there wasn’t any doubt in his mind about a comeback.

Mims put the accident behind him and returned to the mound, leading the Rebels to an Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A championship following a 7-3 and 14-6 sweep of Wilcox Academy in the championship series May 4 at Paterson Field in Montgomery.

The Rebels (37-9) won their second championship in school history and first since 2007.

“I wanted to come back,” Mims said. “I wanted to do everything I could to get back out there. I knew we had a chance to win a championship.”

Mims, who won three playoff starts in three weeks after nearly a two-month long layoff, made the start in the first game and limited Wilcox to three earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks in a complete game in the opener.

Mims, who gave up two runs in the first inning, made sure Wilcox didn’t make a comeback as he pitched a shutout in the final four innings. Mims finished the season with a 6-0 record on the mound.

“Jarrod doesn’t get going until after the first two or three innings,” said Coosa Valley coach Bobby Hughes. “Then he settles in.”

Junior John Bullen picked up most valuable player honors after leading the Rebels at the plate as he finished 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and five stolen bases in a 14-6 win to clinch the championship.

Bullen, who transferred to Coosa Valley this year from Childersburg and sat out baseball season the past two years, couldn’t compare the championship to anything he’s ever accomplished as a high school athlete.

“There ain’t nothing like it,” Bullen said. “It feels too good.”

Coosa Valley scored five runs in the first inning and didn’t look back.

Justin Floyd went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Gage Holmes finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Phillip Neal went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Mims, Ricky Ellison and Garrett McMillan finished with one hit each.

Holmes and Floyd scored two runs each.

Daniel Kennedy (6-2) picked up the win after giving up three earned runs on 13 hits with six strikeouts and a walk in a complete game.

Aggressive base running, especially by pinch runners Hunter Winslett and Stephen Cryer, helped the Rebels take the first game, 7-3.

Coosa Valley runners, who stole 17 bases in the sweep, looked to move up at every opportunity.

Wilcox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after a two-run single by Will Chapman.

Coosa Valley answered in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice fly by Holmes to drive in Bullen and a two-out, two-run single by Ellison to score Floyd and Winslett.

Wilcox rallied to tie the score at 3-3 with an RBI double by Haden Moore. The Rebels took the lead for good following a sacrifice fly by McMillan to bring home pinch runner Winslett.

Coosa Valley added to the lead with a two-run single by Kennedy in the bottom of the fifth to drive in Winslett and Cryer and push the lead to 6-3. Bullen scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth for the Rebels’ final run in the game.

Ellison led Coosa Valley at the plate as he finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Bullen went 2-for-4 and scored twice.

Mims and Kennedy, who drove in two runs, finished with one hit each. McMillan also had an RBI.

Winslett scored three runs. Bullen added two runs. Floyd and Cryer scored one run each.

Hughes, whose mother passed away during the 2010 season, said winning a championship helped heal the wounds of an adversity-filled year.

“It’s been a tough season,” Hughes said. “I’ve been working through a lot of things.”

“(Winning a championship) is awesome.”