Charles Henderson in playoffs for 15th consecutive seasonPublished 11:01pm Thursday, April 18, 2013
The seven senior members of the 2013 team were less than three years old the last time Charles Henderson missed out on the playoffs in baseball. The Trojans have reached the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs in 15 consecutive seasons, but have only be able to capture one state championship during that streak.
The members of this year’s squad want to change that.
Charles Henderson, the 4A Area 3 champions, amassed 30 wins in the regular season, but have now reset their total to zero and refocused their mindset into a “must win” mentality. The Trojans are scheduled to open the playoffs on Friday at Frazier Field against Brewbaker Tech, a team that Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons feels will provide stout competition in the opening round.
“Brew Tech is a really, really good baseball team,” said Irons. “They have some good left-handed batters in their lineup, and can play. You don’t get to the playoffs and not be a good squad.”
Brewbaker Tech finished its regular season at 17-13, and is the runner up in the area.
The Trojans earned the right to host the first round playoff series by winning their area in dominant style. Charles Henderson swept region foes Bullock County, Ashford and Headland by a combined score of 66-14 in seven games.
Irons said that the team’s defensive goals are to allow less than four runs a game. He feels confident that the pitching staff Charles Henderson has in place can accomplish that task.
“We have six or seven guys that I feel really confident about on the mound,” said Irons. “We have been able to get some good outings all season. We want our guys to challenge hitters, and they have done a good job with that during the regular season.”
The one-two punch of pitchers Houston Mabray and Tripp Blackmon have yielded big results for Charles Henderson in 2013. Mabray, a recent signee of Lurleen B. Wallace Communnity College, has blown batters away with a dominating fastball. Mabray carries a 7-1 record and 1.64 ERA in to the post-season. He will be the game one starter.
Not to be outdone, Blackmon, who will get the nod in the second game, has a perfect 6-0 record, and a stiffling 1.58 ERA.
Xavius Burden will be the primary relief pitcher, and could see some action on the hill at any time.
At the plate, the Trojans have been led by senior first baseman Joey Dension.
Denison leads Charles Henderson in most offensive categories including hits, batting average, home runs and RBI.
Denison, a multi-sport star for the Trojans, recently committed to Southern Union Community College on a baseball scholarship.
“Joey is a great guy,” said Irons. “He has had some big hits for us this season, and I feel he likes being at the plate in pressure situations.”
Outside of Denison, players such as Chase Smartt, Hunter Baggett, Austin Ingram, Luke Hastings and Morgan Shaver have led the Trojans to big wins at the plate.
Despite the early season success, Irons said the team is ready for the “second season”
“All those wins don’t get you a trophy, “All those wins don’t get you a trophy, a win or a title,” said Irons. “It is a new season, a second season, inside the same one. We have to be ready to play every day from here on out.”
The Trojans have also been ranked No. 1 in every Alabama Sports Writers Association poll released this season.
The opening round of the 2013 Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs get underway on Friday at 4:30 p.m. To clinch a spot in the next round, a team must win a three-game series.
A double header is scheduled for Friday, with a game on Saturday, if necessary, set for 1 p.m. first pitch.