E.A. Sports Today

Oxford installed as top seed

Yellow Jackets draw nod over Alexandria, Piedmont, Jacksonville in pivotal year for county tournament

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The baseball coaches of Calhoun County have installed Oxford as the No. 1 seed in what may be a pivotal year for the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament.

The Yellow Jackets (5-3) got the nod over defending champion Alexandria (2-3). Piedmont (3-0) was installed at No. 3 ahead of Jacksonville (5-1) by virtue of its victory over common opponent Etowah.

The Jackets and Valley Cubs have drawn first-round byes, but will host two games in Friday’s opening-round. The complete pairings are listed below.

“It’s awesome that the coaches of Calhoun County think enough about our program and our guys to give us the No. 1 seed,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “But you have to make sure your players understand that the most important game of the tournament is the first one (against the Saks-Wellborn winner) instead of looking to the finals, looking ahead.

“If we don’t take care of each individual pitch during that game we will not have an opportunity for that No. 1 seed to come to fruition at the end of the tournament. The No. 1 seed is awesome and it’s great, but at the same time you have to stay grounded and … focused on that constant even stride of getting better.”

Brooks and Jacksonville coach David Deerman both said the coaches got the seedings right. Oxford and Alexandria were nominated for the top seed, before the consensus swung towards the Yellow Jackets.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get better; we’re just trying to get good by April,” Valley Cubs coach Andy Shaw said. “Right now it’s tough to seed this. Oxford has everybody coming back and they play a great schedule, so they should be No. 1. After that, you could draw it out of a hat. There’s a lot of parity in the rest of them.”

Jacksonville has the best record against in-county competition (2-0) in this early stage of the season, but Deerman had no complaints about the seedings. The entire seeding process took seven minutes.

“We don’t really worry about the records; obviously some of those other teams have played a tougher schedule and they’re more talented than we are,” Deerman said. “Just because we have the best record by no means makes us the best team; they play better opponents. I think it was seeded about where it needed to be seeded.”

It’s a pivotal year for the tournament in that it could be the final year for the format as it’s come to be played. A rule goes into effect next year that would limit baseball to 28 games in the regular season (unlimited during spring break), forcing teams under the current format to leave a block of four for the County Tournament.

Jacksonville assistant principal Rusty Thrasher, who hosted the seeding meeting, insisted administrators were “still going to maintain the county tournament,” but said whatever input the coaches had should be brought to their principals for a vote in May.

One alternative may be splitting the tournament between big schools and small schools. Although there were private discussions among coaches, nothing was formally discussed at Sunday’s tournament seeding meeting.

Thrasher suggested the new rule would lead to some “creative scheduling.”

“A lot of the principals are not going to be for splitting it up,” Thrasher said. “Some may be (for it) and I know the advantages to that, but I know they also like the tradition of a true county tournament.”

“It’s a great tournament, I’d hate to see it change any way because of the tradition of it,” said Alexandria’s Shaw. “It’s one of the best in the state. We may have to modify it. I sure hope we still get to do it somehow.”


March 4
(8) Saks (2-4) vs. (9) Wellborn (1-2), 4:30 p.m. (at Oxford)
(5) Ohatchee (2-2) vs. (12) Donoho (0-3), 7 p.m. (at Oxford)
(13) Faith (0-2) at (4) Jacksonville (5-1), 5 p.m.
(14) Anniston (0-1) at (3) Piedmont (3-0), 5 p.m.
(6) Weaver (0-1) vs. (11) JCA (1-2), 4:30 p.m. (at Alexandria)
(7) White Plains (1-3) vs. (10) Pleasant Valley (0-1), 7 p.m. (at Alexandria)

March 5 (at Henry Farm Park)
Ohatchee-Donoho vs. Jacksonville-Faith, 10 a.m.
Piedmont-Anniston vs. Weaver-JCA, 12:30 p.m.
White Plains-Pleasant Valley vs. (2) Alexandria (2-3), 3 p.m.
Saks-Wellborn vs. (1) Oxford (5-3), 5:30 p.m.

March 7 (at Henry Farm Park)
Piedmont-Anniston/Weaver-JCA vs. Alexandria/White Plains-PV, 4:30 p.m.
Oxford/Saks-Wellborn vs. Ohatchee-Donoho/J’ville-Faith, 7 p.m.

March 8 (at Henry Farm Park)
Championship game, 5:30 p.m.

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