If the Yellow Jackets avenge their loss in last year’s tournament, they’ll have to do so without the services of two of their best.
Senior outfielder Mathew Goodson, signed to play at the University of Alabama, next season, won’t be in action after pulling a hamstring and pitcher/first baseman Trent Simpson is out until mid-March with a lower back injury sustained during football season.
They’ll definitely miss Goodson’s bat. As a junior, he was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 6A Hitter of the Year after belting 22 home runs and driving in 62 runs while batting .480. Simpson wasn’t too shabby either a year ago. As a sophomore he had seven homers and hit for a .435 average.
But I don’t think anyone will feel sorry for the Yellow Jackets. They’ve still got a pitching rotation which includes Jackson Stephens, also signed to Alabama, and Florida signee Tucker Simpson. That’s not to mention Samford signee Zach Lovvorn and Frazier Taylor, signed to Calhoun Community College.
• Just a suggestion: The Yellow Jackets have a bye in the first round. They’ll face either No. 8 Pleasant Valley or No. 9 Weaver in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Henry Farm in Jacksonville.
This year’s county baseball tournament is falling less than two weeks after AHSAA teams were allowed to hold their first game. Several teams such as Weaver and JCA hadn’t even played a game when the seeds were decided this past Sunday. So, as you might expect, many teams will still be searching to find their identity.
Unfortunately, the single-elimination format, which prohibits teams that lose from playing until the tournament concludes, costs some teams precious time on the diamond. During my interview with him Sunday afternoon, Oxford coach Wes Brooks made a suggestion that could potentially remedy the issue.
He said: “I do hope in the future that we go to some type of round robin like three pools of four and one pool of three. Everybody play each other on Friday and Saturday. Then the top four seeds out those pools come and play on Monday for the semis and the finals.”
He acknowledged that it take an available multi-field venue and, of course, approval from school administrators. I think it may be worth a shot.
• It’d be a record: Prior to 2008, no girls basketball team from Calhoun County had ever won 30 games. Piedmont changed that by going 30-2. In 2009, Anniston’s girls one-upped their fellow Lady Bulldogs by going 31-4. With a pair of wins in this week’s AHSAA Final 48 state tournament, fifth-ranked Jacksonville, currently 29-4, could equal that mark. However, the Lady Golden Eagles would hold an even greater distinction if they were to do so. They’d be the first girls hoops team from the county ever to win a state title.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.