By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Southside High Crimson Panthers are once again Etowah County Schools Tournament baseball champions by virtue of a 7-0 victory over the Sardis Lions on Saturday (Apr. 1) at Glencoe.
Sophomore Jarren Wright pitched six strong innings for Southside and the Panthers (14-7) scored four runs in the top of the first inning on their way to their eighth county tournament championship in the past nine years. The lone year that the Panthers did not win the title was due to a rainout.
“Winning county is a goal we set each year and something we take pride in, so this is a nice accomplishment for these kids,” said Southside head coach Blake Bone.
In six innings, Wright only allowed three base runners and one hit, which was a single Braxton Brooks in the second inning. The other Lions who reached base were Kale Walker on a hit-by-pitch and Jake Ross on a walk in the sixth.
“Jarren hasn’t thrown a lot of games for us, but every time he’s out there, he throws well,” said Southside head coach Blake Bone. “He threw only about 50 pitches and threw strikes and located well. He did a good job in staying ahead in the count and keeping [Sardis] off balance. Jarred’s a hard-nosed kid who just goes out there and competes.”
Hunter Bartlett pitched the bottom of the seventh inning for Southside, striking out the side.
Bone noted that his team played much better defense in the championship game than in the Panthers’ 11-7 semifinal win over Hokes Bluff earlier in the day. In that game, Southside was down to its last strike in the top of the seventh when an Eagle fielding error paved the way for a five-run inning.
“It looks like we got all of [the errors] out in that game, and we really played solid defense behind Jarred,” said Bone.
First-inning hits by Austin Winningham and Wright and RBI singles by Logan Brooks, Daniel Sieber and Baylon Fry gave the Panthers a 4-0 lead.
Southside added a run in the top of the fourth on a double by Caleb Jacobs and a sacrifice fly by Tanner Snow.
Austin Winningham and Daniel Sieber each had three hits for Southside.
The Lions are 14-10 overall and 2-0 in Class 4A, Area 13 play.
“Hat’s off to [Wright and Bartlett], but at some point, you’ve got to look back and change your approach at the plate,” said Sardis head coach Zach Gilliland. “We didn’t make the necessary adjustments the second and third time around. I don’t think we ever had a guy in scoring position, and if you don’t score a run, you’re not going beat anybody. But at the end of the day, that’s a good baseball team that we just played. But our area is the most important thing to us, and that’ still out in front of us.”
Publisher/Editor Chris McCarthy contributed to this story