Thompson’s Landon Alton named Pitcher of the Year
Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
Following a 2023 baseball season that featured three pitchers with nine or more wins, eight total pitchers with an ERA of less than 2.0 and 14 with 50 or more strikeouts, it was one of the best year’s in recent history for local pitchers on the mound.
That made narrowing down the Pitcher of the Year for this season a tall task, ultimately coming down to three different players.
Last year, it was Aiden Poe who ran away with the award, and this year, he was in the running once again, as was Spain Park’s CJ Gross.
Ultimately, however, Thompson’s Landon Alton put together a historic season for the Warriors to earn the 2023 Pitcher of the Year award.
During his senior season, Alton put together a new school record of nine wins, going 9-1 for the Warriors and helping them reach the Class 7A semifinals, eventually beating state champion Vestavia Hills in his start against the Rebels in the semifinal series.
Not only that, his stellar season came against one of the toughest schedules in the state, as the Warriors jumped out to a 20-0 record and competed in an area featuring state champion Vestavia Hills, a ranked Hoover team and Oak Mountain.
Alton not only won all of his area matchups against those three teams but went on to win his three playoff starts, taking down Huntsville, Bob Jones and Vestavia Hills in consecutive weeks to finish the 2023 postseason a perfect 3-0.
During that stretch, he gave up a combined five earned runs and struck out a total of 18 batters.
He ultimately went on to finish his final year with the Warriors with a 1.36 ERA, which was second only to Poe among starting pitchers in Shelby County. In addition to that, he struck out 76 batters, which finished third in the county behind Poe and teammate Zach Wyatt.
His two challengers also had their share of highlights with Poe finishing the season 11-2 with a 0.87 ERA and 123 total strikeouts and Gross setting a school record with 10 wins in a 10-1 season with a 1.68 ERA and 53 strikeouts.
All of them had their share of accomplishments and helped their teams reach at least the quarterfinals of the playoffs with Vincent making the Class 2A State Championship, Thompson the Class 7A semifinals and Spain Park the Class 7A quarterfinals.
Alton, however, went toe-to-toe against the best teams in the state in the highest classifications, helping Thompson win the 2023 Area Championship before putting together a dominant postseason on the mound.