Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Decatur High’s Alex Gist slides into second base safely against Austin shortstop Trey Richard. Austin and Decatur will travel to the Birmingham metro area along with Hartselle to play in spring break tournaments.
Spring not a break
Austin, Decatur, Hartselle heading to Birmingham area for baseball games
By Brooke Milam
For Hartselle High’s baseball team, this week’s spring break won’t be much of a break.
Ranked fifth in Class 5A, the Tigers have a busy week of baseball ahead as they will face some of their toughest competition of the season. They’ll play 6A No. 4 Oak Mountain, 6A No. 8 Prattville and Sinclair of Canada in the Buccaneer Classic at Hoover High.
Hartselle (12-7) opens the event Monday against Gadsden City at 11 a.m. at the baseball facility on Hoover High’s campus.
Two of the area’s large schools will join Hartselle in the Birmingham metro area. Austin will play in the Buccaneer Classic, and Decatur is slated to participate in Mountain Brook High’s spring break tournament.
Austin (6-10) will face 6A No. 1-ranked Hoover in the opening round of the Buccaneer Classic on Monday at 1:30 p.m. The Black Bears’ pool in the tournament also includes Springville, 5A No. 9 Southside-Gadsden and Paul Bryant.
Decatur (6-9) will begin play in the Mountain Brook spring break tournament Monday at 5:30 p.m. against Walker. The Red Raiders also will face Mountain Brook, Hewitt-Trussville and 3A No. 6 Winfield.
None of the three has it easy. When asked last week about his Tigers’ tough draw in the tournament and how the brackets were picked, Hartselle coach William Booth just smiled, saying he didn’t know how the matchups were chosen but that he doesn’t mind the challenge.
“That’s what we want — we want to play the best,” Booth said.
Decatur has made the Mountain Brook tournament a spring break tradition, and Red Raiders coach Mike Burns said there are several reasons his team keeps returning to the event.
“We get to play different teams that we don’t normally play during the year, and all the teams we get to play are class-act programs,” Burns said.
Austin baseball coach Jake Miles said he’s looking at the spring break games as a final tune-up for area play, which begins for most teams the week after the break.
Austin’s 6A, Area 16 includes Sparkman, Bob Jones and Florence.
“When it gets down to it, we’re almost a three-game season,” Miles said.
“Those area games are the ones that really matter, and we’re looking to improve, improve, improve until we get to that point. We have a tough schedule, but hopefully that will help us for the postseason.”
Hartselle also will have to be on top of its game after spring break. The Tigers will hop into 5A, Area 13 play, which includes matchups against rival and top-ranked Cullman, Brewer and West Point.
Decatur plays in 5A, Area 16 along with seventh-ranked Muscle Shoals, eighth-ranked Athens and Russellville.
Burns said his team has the talent to compete, but needs to erase mental errors that have plagued the young Red Raiders team early.
Coaches hope that with the temperature warming up, so will their teams’ performances, and spring break is the perfect time to get started.
“We just need to put together some complete games,” Burns said. “At Mountain Brook, we’re going to work on putting together some complete games, and then come back and be ready for area competition.”
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