By Chris McCarthy
Coosa Christian made short work of Appalachian this past week, and in the process clinched its second straight Class 1A, Area 11 title.
On Monday (Apr. 10), the No. 5 Conquerors (21-4) posted an 11-1 win in Gadsden in five innings. On Tuesday (Apr. 11), Coosa produced a 15-1 victory at Appalachian.
“I’m just really proud of our kids and what they’ve accomplished,” said Coosa head coach Joey Millican. “It’s not our ultimate goal, so we’re going to set our minds and go at it and see where it takes us. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to coach these kids, and hopefully we can keep this going.”
On Tuesday, winning pitcher Jackson Justus threw a two-hitter while racking up 10 strikeouts. He helped his cause with a grand slam and six RBI. Also at the plate for the Conquerors, Jace Mills had two hits and 3 RBI; Caleb Garrett, Alex Holman and Carston Lipscomb each had a hit and an RBI; and Ashton Clemmons and Clay Waits each had a hit.
At the top of the list of several standout performances for the Conquerors on Monday was the pitching effort of Caleb Garrett. The senior right-hander maintained a perfect game into the fourth inning. By that time, the hosts had an 8-0 lead. After giving up a base hit and a run-scoring double, Garrett resumed his dominance and retired the final five batters he faced. In five innings, Garrett struck out seven and did not allow a walk.
“Caleb has given us all he’s got all season, and I’m proud of him and what he’s accomplished,” said Millican. “We had a game plan and he stuck to it. He kept ahead in the county and kept [Appalachian] off balance. It was just a great job on his part.”
Meanwhile, the Coosa offense bashed the visitors for 11 hits, all but one for singles. Hitting in the leadoff spot, Garrett helped his cause by going 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Alex Holman went 2-for-2 with and RBI and two runs scored, while Ashton Clemmons went 2-for-2 with a run scored. Jackson Justus went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Colton Frix had a hit and two RBI.
“Our bats came alive and we were active on the basepaths,” said Millican. “We’re at our best when we can put pressure on the other team. If we can get on base, we’re going to run. We basically like to play small ball, which suits our strengths.”
Garrett received all the support he required when he led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on Holman’s base hit. Holman, Caden Davidson and Justus came around later in the inning for an early four-run lead.
Jace Mills’ run in the next inning made it 5-0, and Justus, Jake McDowell (running for Clemmons) and Caiden Lipscomb scored in the third for an 8-0 advantage. Garrett and Holman came home in the fourth.
In fitting fashion, Garrett’s RBI single in the fifth ended the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
In junior varsity action on Monday, Coosa won by a score of 11-3. Winning pitcher Noah Bruce allowed three hits and three runs while striking out two. For the Conquerors, Noah Bruce had two hits and two RBI; Noah Davidson and Emory Kitchen each had a hit and two RBI; Carston Lipscomb had one hit and one RBI; and Dartavious Britton, Evan Delp and Jacob Thrasher each had one hit.
Millican pointed out that his team put in a lot of work during the offseason after the Conquerors lost to Cedar Bluff in the second round of the 2016 state playoffs.
“They wanted to do more this year, so during the summer they worked a little harder. We played summer ball, we worked out and practiced when we could, and it’s been paying off for this season. We started off hot and continued that.”