By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Westbrook Christian High faces a very familiar opponent in this week’s second-round Class 2A state baseball playoff series, which starts today (Apr. 25) in Rainbow City.
The Warriors will attempt to put Section out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Westbrook beat the Lions in the second round in 2013 and 2012 and the first round in 2011.
The best-of-three series begins with a doubleheader on Friday starting at 4:30 p.m., with an if-necessary Game 3 on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“I feel like we know those guys personally,” Westbrook coach Matt Kennedy said.
“We’d love to finally get a win against them,” Lions coach Drew Davis said. “We’ve not had a lot of luck, and maybe it’s time for it to turn.”
With two hard-hitting teams and two well-rounded pitching corps, this series could conceivably go in a lot of different directions.
Kennedy called Section the “best-hitting team in 2A North, 1-9.”
If that’s the truth, the Warriors are probably a close No. 2.
“We’ve struggled all year with getting the timely hits,” Kennedy said.
That problem changed somewhat in the first-round, with Westbrook scoring a ton of two-out hits, that Kennedy called “key.”
The Warriors pounded out 18 hits in the first game last week, scoring 23 runs against North Sand Mountain. Westbrook scored 13 in the nightcap but was aided by several walks and hit batsmen.
That probably won’t be the case this week, as Section also brings in a strong pitching staff, led by starters Cody Goss and Heath McRae.
Ross Anderson is the closer and could be prefaced by Luke Anderson and Hunter Thomas.
Two teams with big bats. Two teams with strong pitching. What about the defenses?
“We’re not going to get a ton of strikeouts,” Kennedy said. “Our pitchers throw it up there and rely on the defense to get outs. They’ve done a great job this year.”
Davis said basically the same of his defense. “They do a good job of backing up the pitchers. Earlier, while it was still cold, we had some trouble on defense but we’ve worked hard at correcting that and the kids have responded well.”
With that said, the series will probably come down to which team has the most mental toughness to do what is necessary.