County has 9 in first baseball rankings of 2023 season
Published 9:48 am Thursday, March 16, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
Spring is in full swing for local baseball teams with several heating up early in the season, which was showcased when the state’s first ASWA baseball rankings were released on Thursday, March 16.
A total of nine teams from Shelby County were either ranked or nominated for a spot inside their respective top 10.
Thompson, Spain Park, Briarwood and Vincent were the four to find their way into the top 10 of their classification, while Chelsea, Oak Mountain, Calera, Helena and Shelby County were all nominated for spots.
None, however, were praised as highly as the last undefeated team in the state—Thompson.
The Warriors have been one of the hottest teams in the state to start the season with a 17-0 record, which makes them the last undefeated team in any classification that was ranked or nominated.
With that, Thompson came in at No. 2 in the classification, while Central-Phenix City claimed the top spot in the standings with a 13-2 record against a challenging schedule so far.
So far this season, the Warriors haven’t just been perfect record wise, but they have outscored opponents 147-35, putting on a clinic at the plate, in the field and on the mound.
They’ll have a challenging schedule ahead with games against Central-Phenix City, Spain Park, Oak Mountain and others before taking part in an area that features No. 5 Tuscaloosa County, No. 6 Vestavia Hills and No. 10 Tuscaloosa County.
So, while it’s a strong start, the Warriors are aware of the work that is ahead.
Spain Park also earned a spot in the Class 7A top 10 as the No. 7 team following a 12-4 start to the season.
The Jags did recently lose to Vestavia Hills on Tuesday, March 14, but they had won three in a row before that, while each of the four losses have come against teams ranked inside the top seven of either the 6A or 7A classification.
Oak Mountain, who has been up and down this season with an 8-7 start against a difficult schedule, and Chelsea, who has faced similar tests in their first 7A team, both earned nominations for a spot in the Class 7A top 10.
As for the local 6A teams recognized, the Briarwood Lions were the highlight, coming in at No. 4 in the standings thanks to a 9-3 start to the season.
After a 4-0 and 6-1 start, the Lions lost two in a row, but they have since bounced back with three wins in a row against typically strong opponents. Two of their losses this season are also by two runs or less, while the other is an 8-1 loss to Chelsea.
Calera and Helena have both shown positive signs at times as well, earning nominations in the 6A classification. The Eagles are off to a 7-6 start against some of top teams in the state, while Helena is 4-10 but has faced arguably the state’s toughest schedule, which is a theme each year for the Huskies.
In Class 5A, the Shelby County Wildcats, who spent much of last season ranked No. 1, didn’t earn a spot in the top 10, but they were nominated following an 8-5 start to the season.
The Wildcats have challenged themselves early in the season, playing one of the toughest 5A schedules in the state, losing by six to 7A No. 2 Thompson, by six to 7A nominated team James, by eight to 7A nominated team Oak Mountain, by five to 7A nominated team Daphne and by three to 6A No. 5 Cullman.
Shelby County has won the rest of its games outside of those challenging opponents in higher classifications.
As for the Vincent Yellow Jackets, they feature one of the most experienced teams in the 2A classification this season, which has shown in an 8-2 start.
The Jackets have taken advantage of their experience, which led to the No. 6 spot in the first rankings. Vincent’s two losses are to Childersburg 10-6 and Fayetteville 2-0, but the Jackets have given up two runs or less in all but two games this season, showcasing a talented pitching effort so far this season.