Tournament again threatened by rain
By Stephen Dawkins
Rain might cause a postponement, and the county’s biggest school is not participating.
This season’s county baseball tournament is shaping up to be similar to the 2009 version.
The tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Maplesville, but heavy rainfall Wednesday had Maplesville coach Derrick Littleton doubting whether the schedule could be kept.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be any way we can get our field ready; there’s a lot of standing water,” Littleton said.
Littleton said a final decision would be made Thursday.
If no changes are made, Jemison and Thorsby would play in the first game, at 4 p.m. Friday, and Isabella and Maplesville would follow at 6:30 p.m.
The winner of the first game would play Verbena, who won the draw for a first-round bye, at 11 a.m. Saturday, and the winner of that contest would play the Isabella-Maplesville winner at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The bracket also includes a consolation game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
So, if Jemison or Thorsby were to claim the championship tournament, they would have to win three games in two days.
Jemison coach Jason Easterling said it would require a team with a deep pitching staff to accomplish that feat.
“But you have to go ahead and throw your best guy to have a chance to win the first one,” Easterling said.
If the field conditions don’t improve, Littleton said, an altered schedule could include games played all day Saturday, or three games Saturday and a championship game on Monday.
As of Wednesday evening, forecasts called for 60 percent chance of rain on Thursday, 50 percent on Friday and 30 percent on Saturday.
Last year’s tournament was postponed from its original date to the end of the regular season. If this year’s event is to follow the same script, it would also include Thorsby being the team holding the trophy at the end.
Thorsby enters the tournament with an 11-1 record and a three-game winning streak. The Rebels have already defeated Verbena and Maplesville and led Jemison, 4-1, in the third inning on Tuesday before the game was called because of rain.
Still, Thorsby coach Ab Argent said how his team fares in the tournament wouldn’t determine whether its season was a success.
“We talk about, every time we put on a uniform, it’s important,” Argent said. [The tournament] is important, but it’s not as important as an area game would be.”
But even if Thorsby wins its second straight county tournament championship, it still would not have knocked off Chilton County High School, which won four consecutive titles before last season.
CCHS coach Josey Shannon said his decision not to participate was a practical one and based on the level of competition.
“There’s a bunch of 1A, 2A schools around here, and not trying to put anybody down, but I don’t know that playing in [the tournament] will make our team better,” Shannon said. “If I did think it would make us better, we would play in it.”
Last year marked the first time the tournament had been played somewhere other than Clanton’s Jack Hayes Field, where CCHS plays its home games.
Littleton said he was in favor of returning the tournament to Jack Hayes because attendance would likely by higher, but CCHS has home games scheduled for Saturday against Bibb County and Tuscaloosa County.
The arrangement isn’t a total loss for Maplesville, though, because the Devils will be familiar with the surroundings.
“That’s an advantage,” Littleton said.
County baseball tournament at a glance:
Coach: Clay Shearer, first season
Roster (with jersey number and year in school):
Coach: Jason Easterling, fourth season
Maplesville Red Devils
Coach: Derrick Littleton, first season
Coach: Ab Argent, sixth season
Verbena Red Devils
Coach: Tommy Headley, fourth season
•Game 1: Jemison vs. Thorsby – 4 p.m.
•Game 2: Isabella vs. Maplesville – 6:30 p.m.
•Game 3: Verbena vs. Game 1 winner – 11 a.m.
•Consolation game: Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser – 2 p.m.
•Championship game: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner – 5 p.m.