E.A. Sports Today

Calhoun County baseball

Defending champion Oxford voted top seed, Alexandria No. 2; contingencies laid out for potential inclement weather, date and site for final

Editor’s note: Tickets for the Calhoun County baseball tournament are $6 per day and can be purchased only on GoFan.

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

WELLBORN — The only question left from Sunday’s seeding meeting for the Calhoun County baseball tournament is, what seed will Mother Nature claim?

Coaches voted defending champion Oxford (4-1) is the top seed and 2022 runner-up Alexandria (3-2) as No. 2, conjuring memories of their classic county final a year ago.

Rounding out the seeds are No. 3 Piedmont (1-0), No. 4 Jacksonville (0-4), No. 5 Ohatchee (2-2), No. 6 Donoho (0-0), No. 7 Pleasant Valley (1-1), No. 8 White Plains (1-2), No. 9 Jacksonville Christian (1-1-1), No. 10 Saks (1-2), No. 11 Weaver (0-1), No. 12 Wellborn (3-0), No. 13 Faith Christian (2-1) and No. 14 Anniston (0-4).

The tournament is scheduled to start Friday at Choccolocco Park, but forecasts include the possibility of severe weather Thursday night and Thunderstorms into Friday.

If rain reigns on Friday, the tournament schedule will move a day forward, Wellborn principal Andy Carpenter said. That means Friday’s games move to Saturday, Saturday’s games to Monday and so on.

Thursday, March 9, was the earliest possible available for Jacksonville State University’s Rudy Abbott Field, site of the championship game, offering two days of flexibility between Monday’s scheduled semifinals and the title game.

With the understanding that rain could impact JSU’s baseball schedule, contingencies were made to possibly move the championship game to Choccolocco Park and play it as early as Tuesday.

Once championship-game teams are determined, principals and coaches for the two schools will meet and decide.

“It’s exciting, and I’m hoping for good weather,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “We’ve got those two days built in and two different locations, if something crazy happens and two days get rained out.”

As for seeding, there were no surprises. Brooks was the only coach who nominated a team besides Oxford for top seed, placing Alexandria in discussion. Oxford carried the vote.

“If I was voting, I would vote ourselves number one,” Brooks said. “Voting is tough, because it’s so early, and our county is so talented that I think you have about six teams that (could make noise). … 

“You sit there and look at Alexandria, Donoho, Jacksonville, Ohatchee, Piedmont, those are schools that all have a shot to play on semifinal Monday.”

Having Alexandria as the No. 2 seed raises the possibility of a rematch of last year’s final. Oxford won 3-2 on Hudson Gilman’s one-out, walk-off double down the third base line. The hit broke up Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen’s no-hitter.

Allen had reached his pitch limit, and Gilman was to be his last batter.

Now, a junior, Allen returns and holds down the job as Alexandria’s No. 1 pitcher. Gilman is a sophomore catcher for Oxford.

Allen “is looking good,” first-year Alexandria head coach Zac Welch said. “He’s growing. He’s finally a junior, so now he’s to the age where he’s supposed to fill out his uniform, and he’s really coming on.”

Welch was promoted to replace his old boss when Andy Shaw stepped down after coaching Alexandria baseball for 31 years. Shaw retired from Alabama and went to work for Haralson County (Ga.) High School along with two other former Alexandria head coaches … Frank Tucker and Jason Johnson.

Welch joked about his increased grass cutting and called his new assignment “tiring.”

“Baseball is baseball,” he said. “The game part of it is what I’m used to and what I’m comfortable doing.

‘There’s a lot more administrative things I’ve had to take home, but it comes with the territory, and I was ready for it. It’s an adjustment, but we’re adjusting as we go.”

FCA home run derby

Prior to Sunday’s seeding vote, Justin Caudle, campus missionary for Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne and Randolph County chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, announced plans for an FCA home-run derby for players from schools in Calhoun County.

The event is set for May 22 at Donoho, under the new lights at Donoho’s stadium. Time has yet to be finalized.

Caudle called for each team in Calhoun County to send its top two home-run hitters and to let them have at Donoho’s short porches.

The idea mimics a similar event started by FCA staffer Ricky Bowen in Jasper last year.

“It was just a way to led the kids after the season have fun,” Caudle said. “Everybody loves home run derbies. I think everybody enjoys watching Major League Baseball’s home-run derby.

“It’s a way to get their name out there and for them just to have fun and hit some home runs.”

The derby will follow a short devotion, Caudle said. Since the FCA is using the event as a fundraiser, admission is a donation.

Trophies will go to the winner and runner up.  

Cover photo: Wellborn principal Andy Carpenter leads Sunday’s seeding meeting for the Calhoun County baseball tournament. Coaches voted Oxford No. 1 seed and Alexandria No. 2.

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