E.A. Sports Today

Signature field feats

No. 3 White Plains, No. 3 Ohatchee win tourney openers with big first innings; Extra: Kulicks build a memory

Faith middle infielder Michael Kulick visits with his parents Gina and Paul after the Lions’ county baseball tournament game Friday. See story below.

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Spring cannot be far away when the first pitch of the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament is being tossed off the mound at the Signature Field at Choccolocco Park.

Ohatchee and White Plains both got their county tournaments off to rousing starts with big first innings in their tournament openers.

Ohatchee jumped on Faith Christian for 10 runs in the bottom of the first and went on to take a 13-3 win. The fourth-seeded Indians (5-4) will play fifth-seeded Alexandria in the quarterfinals Saturday morning.

White Plains had much the same story as it jumped on winning Anniston for 11 in the first on its way to a 19-0 win. The third-seeded Wildcats (6-2) will face No. 6 Piedmont in Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. quarterfinal.

“It was a good night for us,” Ohatchee coach Blake Jennings said. “We got 10 runs in the bottom of the first and got to pitch some younger kids tonight. We also got a chance to get some other kids in the game and get some experience on this unbelievable field. It is our first time playing on it.”

Taylor Eubanks, Jesse Sellers and Chase Widgeon scored two runs apiece and each had a hit. Eubanks had a two-run single and Sellers followed with a two-run double in the big first inning. The Indians were helped by five walks and three hit batsmen. They sent 15 batters to the plate in the first.

Faith picked up a couple first-inning runs and briefly enjoyed a 2-0 lead. Michael Kulick, Julian Key and Jacob Clerklier delivered hits in the first inning to put the Lions ahead.

“Give Faith some credit, they hit the ball very well,” Jennings said, “but I was pleased with our performance.”

Faith coach Brad Yarbrough said “There were a lot of positives that we got out of this even with the loss.”

Faith 200 01 — 3 6 4
Ohatchee (10)10 11 — 13 6 2

WP: Larry Noah. LP: Jack Sills. 2B: Jesse Sellers (O), Josh Lipham (O), Chase Widgeon (O). 3B: Jack Sills (F).

White Plains sent 16 batters to the plate and banged out five hits in its first-inning eruption. Andrew Norred had two singles and 3 RBIs and Jake Spivey had the distinction of being hit by a pitch twice in the inning and scored a pair of runs. The Wildcats had 4 walks and 7 stolen bases to go with the hits.

The Wildcats added four more runs in the second as Braxton Dopson and Brett Beaver rapped doubles. They had 12 hits in the game.

Anniston got on the board in the last inning when shortstop Jamaree West hit a two-out, two-run double to help the Bulldogs avoid the shutout.

“We got a lot of young guys in tonight,” White Plains coach Wes Henderson said. “We took a different approach to our hitting tonight. We said we were not going to swing at bad pitches and were going to try to hit the ball to the opposite field.”

As the attention turns to Saturday, the Wildcats beat Piedmont earlier this year 14-1, but nobody is expecting that type result again.

“Piedmont is going to be tough tomorrow,” Henderson said. “They will throw their ace and we will throw ours. It should be a great game.”

Anniston 000 02 — 2 2 6
White Plains (11)40 2x — 17 12 1

WP: Chex Hulsey. 2B: Andrew Cronan 2 (W),

Extra: Kulicks Build a Memory

It was a great night for baseball at Choccolocco Park as the sound of the game filled the air: The crack of the bat, the popping of the mitt, coaches yelling instructions and the fans cheering for their favorite player.

Paul and Gina Kulick could not hear those sounds, but it didn’t prevent the deaf parents of Faith Christian second baseman Michael Kulick from enjoy the game. Paul was taking pictures of everything Michael did and even though the Lions were on the short end of a 13-3 loss to Ohatchee, they were proud parents.

They follow Michael to all his games. Paul is a physical education teacher at the Alabama School for the Deaf in Talladega and goes above and beyond to help his charges. Gina works part-time at Hobby Lobby and always greets visitors with a smile.

“This is a really nice place,” Paul said in sign with Michael interpreting. “We are so happy that Michael could get to come play here before he graduates. His mom has never missed a game since he was a baby.”

Kulick, a middle infielder who played both second and short in the game, had a nice game against Ohatchee with a couple of hits that drove in two of the Lions’ three runs.

”I like second base the best, but will do whatever they need me to do,” Michael said.

And baseball is just one of the activities he enjoys at school. Besides maintaining a busy academic schedule he also plays basketball and tennis. Just last weekend he was playing in the County Tennis Tournament.

“I’ve just got to pick what I can do and go do it,” he said.

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