E.A. Sports Today

Confident Cubs hit the road

[corner-ad id=1]Alexandria takes to the road for second straight week on a journey it hopes ends in a state championship

Dalton Warren has found his niche on the Alexandria baseball team. He's a fleet-footed outfielder and lends a hand on the mound.

Dalton Warren has found his niche on the Alexandria baseball team. He’s a fleet-footed outfielder and lends a hand on the mound.

By Kady Curvin
For East Alabama Sports Today

ALEXANDRIA — Dalton Warren has been waiting his entire high school career to get a shot at a state championship and the Alexandria senior outfielder believes this may be the year.

The Valley Cubs are preparing to face Pleasant Grove (30-14) in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday at 5. They enter the games with a 31-4 record, tons of confidence and a lot of superstition.

Of the many traditions the Cubs have developed, the starters must all take a bite out of a single piece of gum before they take the field to show they work together.

“It gives us some little super powers, too,” Warren said.

There’s some merit to that as Warren hit his first home run this season, a walk-off grand slam against Piedmont. In the first round of the playoffs he proved to be a very valuable asset when he laid down several good bunts and stopped Springville from scoring, allowing Cody Dodd to get the shutout.

For Warren, last year was all about finding his place, but this year has been all about focusing on hitting and fulfilling his role on the team. Practice and hard work have paid off and now he is a team leader.

“Last year I was just really nervous and I was trying to find my role on the team; was I going to be an outfielder or a pitcher?” he said. “I was just trying to find out what I could do to best help the team.”

Centerfield is Warren’s main position because he is fast and can judge a fly ball from any angle, but he also pitches. Being left-handed gives him many advantages, including being able to get down the line on a good bunt and throwing hitters off with a left-handed fastball.

Cubs coach Andy Shaw is hoping for another big pitching week against Pleasant Grove. The Cubs got shutouts from Dodd and Justin Whitley against Springville and wins by Whitley and Taylor Shaddix against Mortimer Jordan. Both of Whitley’s wins have been shutouts.

“Our two guys (Dodd and Whitley) have been good all year and we expect them to do good things,” Shaw said.

The Cubs have not changed anything about practice from Day One, and this week it’s been more of the same. During the week between rounds, they have a light practice on Monday, scrimmage on Tuesday and then do what’s necessary to get to Friday.

“We’ve been preparing all year for the playoffs,” Warren said. “We wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to practice, sometimes twice a day. And we just stay after school and practice and work out

“We’ve just been working our tails off doing everything we can to make sure we make it not just to the second or third round, but all the way to the state finals this year.”

Kady Curvin is a junior at Alexandria High School. This is her second story for East Alabama Sports Today.

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