First baseball poll features 4 ranked, 3 nominated teams

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

Early in the 2019 baseball season, several teams have tried to prove they are legit contenders this season instead of pretenders, and while we won’t find out if that is true until the postseason gets here, we got a feel for some of the best teams across Shelby County in the first ASWA baseball poll of the year.

With four teams cracking the top 10 in their respective classification, and three others nominated for a spot in the top 10, it was a solid showing for county teams in the first standings.

Oak Mountain, Shelby County, Montevallo and Coosa Valley have all shown they are a step ahead early in the season and earned spots in their respective top 10, while Spain Park, Helena and Chelsea seem to be on the verge and were nominated for spots.

One of the hottest teams in not just the county, but the state, has been none other than the Oak Mountain Eagles.

As of Tuesday, March 12, the Eagles had won five in a row and nine of 10 games to improve to 11-2 overall on the young season.

Despite the good play, Oak Mountain was the last ranked team at No. 10 in the 7A poll, but with their only losses to No. 8 Mountain Brook and 9-4 Spain Park, there is plenty of momentum for this team.

The Eagles have one of the best offenses in the state and possibly the best pitcher in the state in Jackson Kimbrell. If the rest of the pitching staff continues to progress, it’s hard to see them not making a run later this spring.

Spain Park was the only other team featured in 7A from the county, receiving votes for a spot in the top 10. The Jags are off to a 9-4 start and have currently won three games in a row against Oak Mountain, Gadsden City and Homewood.

The Jags’ biggest hurdle is going to be their area featuring No. 4 Vestavia Hills, No. 7 Hewitt-Trussville and No. 8 Mountain Brook.

In the 6A classification, Chelsea and Helena were both nominated for a spot in the top 10, but have yet to see consistent play largely due to difficult schedules.

The Huskies have beaten a handful of good teams, including two wins against 7A No. 3 Hoover, but have also lost several games against very good teams. They have yet to play anybody outside of the 7A classification or who isn’t ranked in the top 10 of 6A with the hope that will help them play their best in area play.

Chelsea has arguably been the best 6A team from Shelby County this season, but still sit at just 6-6 this season. None of their losses are bad, and it won’t be surprising if the Hornets go on a win streak leading into area play.

The final three teams actually ranked in the top 10 were the Shelby County Wildcats in Class 5A, the Montevallo Bulldogs in Class 4A and the Coosa Valley Rebels in the AISA.

Shelby County recently had a seven-game win streak snapped on a 9-4 loss to Pell City, but what the Wildcats had done before that was more than enough to earn them the No. 5 spot in the standings.

During their win streak, the Wildcats outscored opponents 92-5 scoring 10-plus runs in six of the seven games. On Wednesday, march 13, they dropped a second straight game to county foe Vincent, which may hurt them in the next standings, but there is still time to pick up wins before then.

If they can get pitching to be consistent and deep, this team will be dangerous with its impressive offense.

Montevallo has been on fire lately, and despite a loss to Jemison on Monday, March 11, the Bulldogs have won eight of their last nine games, including two area games against Indian Springs to improve to 2-0 in area play.

The Bulldogs have scored at least nine runs in nine of their 10 wins showing their consistency offensively so far this season. There seems to be a different excitement around the team this year, and expectations are big.

The Rebels have been up and down so far this season, but at 10-6 overall, there have been more positives than negatives. With wins against several other top 10 teams, the Rebels have proven they will at least be competitive when it comes to making a run at a state championship this season.

Class 7A

  1. Smiths Station (11-1)
  2. Bob Jones (11-3)
  3. Hoover (11-4)
  4. Vestavia Hills (11-1)
  5. Auburn (7-2)
  6. McGill-Toolen (6-3-1)
  7. Hewitt-Trussville (11-1)
  8. Mountain Brook (11-5)
  9. Huntsville (8-1)
  10. Oak Mountain (11-2)

Others receiving votes: James Clemens (9-4), Spain Park (9-4), Fairhope (8-5), Mary G. Montgomery (5-2), Austin (8-2), Florence (5-6)

Class 6A

  1. Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (9-2)
  2. Russell County (15-1)
  3. Faith Academy (7-3)
  4. Cullman (6-4)
  5. Saraland (9-3)
  6. Hazel Green (4-7)
  7. Oxford (8-2)
  8. Buckhorn (6-2)
  9. Spanish Fort (8-5)
  10. Hartselle (5-6)

Others receiving votes: Wetumpka (11-3), Daphne (7-4), Hueytown (5-4), Homewood (7-2), Helena (7-7), Chelsea (6-6), Gulf Shores (10-3), Athens (8-3), Albertville (9-3), Decatur (5-3)

Class 5A

  1. St. Paul’s (11-1)
  2. Etowah (10-2)
  3. Charles Henderson (11-3)
  4. Satsuma (9-1)
  5. Shelby County (9-2)
  6. Corner (6-4)
  7. Jackson (7-2)
  8. Jasper (9-3)
  9. Lawrence County (5-3)
  10. Mortimer Jordan (8-5)

Others nominated: Ardmore (4-3), Carroll (9-5), East Lawrence (4-3), Headland (5-4), Ramsay (6-0), Scottsboro (5-3), UMS-Wright (5-5)

Class 4A

  1. Hokes Bluff (5-1)
  2. Mobile Christian (6-5-1)
  3. Trinity (8-3)
  4. LAMP (9-3)
  5. Wilson (4-3-1)
  6. North Jackson (6-1)
  7. Haleyville (6-2)
  8. Oak Grove (5-3)
  9. Montevallo (9-2)
  10. West Morgan (5-1)

Others nominated: Andalusia (5-7), Elmore County (6-1)

Class 3A

  1. Providence Christian (9-3)
  2. St. James (6-5)
  3. Gordo (7-1)
  4. Winfield (11-4)
  5. Houston Academy (11-2)
  6. Bayside (6-3)
  7. Hale County (5-1)
  8. Geneva (9-4)
  9. T.R. Miller (7-1)
  10. Piedmont (6-3)

Others nominated: Beulah (7-1), Lexington (3-2), Sylvania (5-3)

Class 2A

  1. G.W. Long (10-1)
  2. Fayetteville (7-4)
  3. Thorsby (7-1)
  4. Fyffe (7-1)
  5. Leroy (7-3)
  6. Ariton (11-4)
  7. Highland Home (7-2)
  8. Southeastern (7-1)
  9. Cleveland (5-3)
  10. Decatur Heritage (3-2)

Others nominated: Cedar Bluff (3-1), Goshen (8-2), New Brockton (7-3), Westbrook Christian (5-3)

Class 1A

  1. Brantley (7-3)
  2. Millry (7-4)
  3. Athens Bible (5-2)
  4. Sweet Water (4-4)
  5. Mars Hill (4-2)
  6. Winterboro (8-2)
  7. Covenant Christian (5-0)
  8. Spring Garden (5-2)
  9. Red Level (6-2)
  10. Ragland (5-3)

Others nominated: Gaylesville (4-4), Heritage Christian (4-4), Victory Christian (7-2)

AISA

  1. Morgan Academy (8-0)
  2. Bessemer Academy (14-3)
  3. Pike Liberal Arts (13-3)
  4. Lee-Scott Academy (8-4)
  5. Macon-East (13-4)
  6. Coosa Valley Academy (10-6)
  7. Autauga Academy (13-6)
  8. Hooper Academy (13-5)
  9. Lakeside Academy (10-2)
  10. Patrician (5-2)

Others nominated: Glenwood (5-4), Jackson Academy (6-3), Monroe Academy (5-2)