Chelsea shuts out Hewitt-Trussville to earn playoff spot

Published 4:29 pm Saturday, April 22, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

TRUSSVILLE – With their season on the line, the Chelsea Hornets delivered on Saturday, April 22 in a play-in game for a spot in the Class 6A playoffs against Hewitt-Trussville.

Chelsea only needed two runs to pick up a 2-0 victory, and while those two runs were key, it was the number three that ultimately decided the game.

That’s how many pitchers the Hornets used to combine for the shutout effort in the biggest game of the season.

Fresh off a challenging area series with Spain Park during the week, Chelsea had to be strategic on the mound, and it started with Kaden Heatherly.

Limited to a pitch count, Heatherly made the most of his time, striking out the side in the top of the first.

That set the stage for Chelsea to quickly get all the run support needed.

The Hornets came to the plate in the bottom half of the opening inning and got a lead-off walk from Chris McNeill to get things started.

Two outs, however, quickly made it look like the inning would end quietly.

That changed in a hurry, as the Hornets put together a two-out rally that featured back-to-back doubles from Jackson Morgan and Cody Fortenberry. Morgan drove home McNeill and Fortenberry then brought home Morgan to give Chelsea a 2-0 advantage through the opening inning.

It looked like the Huskies were going to have a big answer in the top of the second after the first two batters reached base safely, but Heatherly’s ability to remain calm was crucial for the Hornets.

He settled in and struck out the next two batters before a single loaded the bases. With two down and the next batter in a 3-2 count looking to break the game open, Heatherly blew a ball right by Rob Wright for a sixth strikeout in two innings.

That was the final batter Heatherly was able to take on due to his pitch count, as he used strikeouts to record each out in the first two innings. He allowed two hits and two walks with no runs in his time on the mound.

That allowed Logan Moller to step in with a two-run advantage, and he delivered exactly what the team needed.

Chelsea never could add any insurance runs, putting just four more on base the rest of the way, but Moller carried over Heatherly’s calming presence.

The Huskies had eight more reach base safely in the game, including two or more in the same inning multiple times and another bases-loaded situation in the fifth, but Moller got out of almost every jam.

He went into the final inning, getting two outs in the seventh, and allowed no runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

After two reached safely in the seventh, Brandon Ridderhoff came in looking for the final out of the game, and just like Heatherly started it, Ridderhoff finished it with an emphatic strikeout to punch Chelsea’s ticket to the playoffs.

Chelsea was outhit 8-3 in the game, but the Hornets only needed the two doubles to drive home their early runs.

Morgan led the way with a 2-for-2 game featuring one RBI, one walk and a run scored, while Fortenberry finished with his lone hit and an RBI.

Chelsea will now travel to Bob Jones to take on the No. 5 team in the state in round one of the Class 7A playoffs.