Helena opens Class 6A playoffs with sweep of Wetumpka

Published 9:44 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HELENA – The Helena Huskies are off to the second round of the playoffs after opening the 2023 Class 6A postseason with a series sweep of Wetumpka on Friday, April 21.

The Huskies hosted the Indians in the opening round of the playoffs and put on a stellar display in back-to-back wins of 2-0 and 9-5 to cement their spot in the second round.

In game one of the series, it was Colton Willmon who helped set the tone in a lower-scoring battle.

The starting pitcher was able to go the distance in a clutch first start of the postseason, picking up a complete-game, two-hit shutout. He allowed just one walk and struck out five to earn the win.

More importantly, he allowed the Huskies to be patient offensively and not feel forced to score.

It became even more key in the bottom of the second when Helena was able to grab the early lead.

A walk and single set the stage for Caleb Higgins, who brought home Hayden Berry for a 1-0 advantage.

Two innings later, the Huskies were able to add to that lead with a John Martin Williamson RBI single that gave them all of the insurance they needed.

Wetumpka did load the bases in the top of the fifth with two outs, but an emphatic strikeout from Willmon got Helena out of the jam.

That seemingly sparked a dominant finish from the starting pitcher and the defense, as Wetumpka went down in order over the final two innings to give the Huskies the 2-0 shutout.

Helena was led by Williamson with a 3-for-3 game featuring an RB, while Higgins also had an RBI. Cam Nunley, Braydon Kendrick, Mason Johnson, Willmon and Berry all had one hit in the win as well.

With the 1-0 series lead, Helena was one win away from advancing and played with that comfort level early in the second game, building off the confidence of the game-one win by scoring six quick runs in the first two innings of game two to take early command.

Wetumpka wasn’t able to be held scoreless this time around, however, and answered with two runs in the third.

But Helena’s offense had woken up, and the Huskies put together a three-run fourth inning to take a 9-2 lead that became too much for the Indians to overcome.

They scored one more in the fourth and two in the sixth to give it their best shot, but Helena had done enough to hold on for a 9-5 win and series win.

Kendrick led the way in game two with two hits, one RBI and two runs scored, while Williamson finished 2-for-4 to total five hits in seven plate appearances in the series.

Mason Johnson, Willmon, Reece Mims and Berry all had one hit and one RBI in the victory.

Berry got the start on the mound and struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, while he gave up three runs on six hits and three walks to earn the win. Logan Barber finished off the game, allowing three hits and two unearned runs with three strikeouts.

The Huskies will now take on either Saraland or Brookwood in the second round of the playoffs.