Panthers visit Pinson Valley

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Class 5A quarterfinals
Southside (28-11) at Pinson Valley (30-11)
Today, 5 p.m.; Saturday 2 p.m. if needed

By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent

The backbone of Southside High’s baseball team came to the forefront in last weekend’s Class 5A second-round playoff victory over Etowah.

“I feel really good about my pitching staff,” said Southside coach Blake Bone. “I would put it up against anyone’s.

The Panthers lost the first game, 4-3, but came back and only allowed four runs in the other two games, winning 7-3 and 6-1.

“I think that the competitiveness of the series will help down the road,” said Bone. “And the atmosphere was fantastic. There were people everywhere, trying to watch the games.”

After Southside evened the series, senior Patrick Lister was called on to start Game 3.

Lister responded with five strong innings, which were good enough to catapult the Panthers into a third-round matchup with Pinson Valley – a situation they are familiar with.

“I knew Patrick had it in him to pitch like that,” Bone said. “He responded to the pressure like a true competitor – and like a senior. Another senior, Andrew Fuhrman, pitched the final two innings and also showed up like a senior should.”

In fact, this series will be a bit of deja vu, as Southside defeated Pinson – at Pinson – last year in the third round, en route to a state runner-up trophy.

“There won’t be a lot of difference,” Bone said. “We didn’t graduate many and they didn’t graduate many, so there will be a lot of familiar faces.”

Bone said that Pinson also relies on a strong pitching staff, so there will be similarities in play.

“They try to scratch out a few runs and let the pitchers handle it, just like we do,” Bone said. “Like us, they are strong and have a lot of depth on the mound. I’m looking for a great series.”

If Southside can scratch out another series win, the semifinal locale will depend on the other game. Should Homewood win it, the Panthers will have home-field advantage. But if Hartselle wins, another road trip will be in the works.

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