STATE CHAMPSPublished 6:33am Friday, May 17, 2013
Charles Henderson sweeps Brooks for school’s second-ever title
Cheers echoed off of every corner of Riverwalk Stadium, tears filled the eyes of dozens of parents and girlfriends and joy covered the face of the players as they dog piled on pitcher Tripp Blackmon.
Charles Henderson (40-3) defeated Brooks (46-11) 7-2 to claim the school’s second Alabama High School Athletic Association state title Thursday afternoon at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.
The Trojans plated two runs in the first and four in the second to jump out to a commanding lead. They never looked back.
Sophomore Chase Smartt swung a hot bat in the title game, knocking in six runs, including a mammoth grand slam in the second inning. The homer clanked off the top of the fence that separates the stadium and the rail line that lies just outside the complex.
Smartt, who was voted game MVP, said that he didn’t think he got all of the pitch, despite the ball travelling near 400 feet.
“Coach Irons told me not to try to do too much,” Smartt said. “The pitcher gave me a 3-1 ball down the middle and I got the barrel on it. I just hit. I didn’t know it was going out.”
While the outgoing Smartt led the Trojan offense, a quiet senior turned in a workmanlike performance on the mound.
Blackmon, like he had done numerous times in 2013, went the distance for Charles Henderson on the hill.
Blackmon struck out just two batters, but handcuffed the Lions for much of the afternoon, allowing only five hits.
Blackmon walked the first batter of the game, but then retired the next 13 Brooks’ batters. The no-hit bid ended with one out in the fifth inning on a bloop single to left field by Riley Phillips.
The state title win capped off a season that saw Charles Henderson become “champions” on four different occasions.
In addition to the ultimate prize of a state championship, the Trojans won the Terry Sikes Memorial Tournament, the Jason Armstrong FCA Classic and the 4A Area 3 Championship.
Charles Henderson ended the season on a 12-game winning streak.
Head coach Derek Irons said the season was “more than a dream season,” for very special reasons.
“A lot of people deserve it, but not everybody gets it,” said Irons. “They got one percent better every day. They bought in and worked hard. They earned this.”
Charles Henderson set the school record for wins, 40, eclipsing the previous mark of 35. Irons praised the efforts of his senior class, including Blackmon, Joey Denison, Brantley LeCroy and Houston Mabray, for their efforts in building a winning program.
“These guys came up as sophomores and kind of took some lumps,” said Irons. “They grew up a lot that season and have worked and worked and worked for this moment. This moment has been three years in the making for this group.”
Blackmon said that he remembered being a little kid, and dreaming of winning a state title in his senior season. The smile on Blackmon’s face never left on Thursday night and he said it would take quite a while for the grandeur of the moment to sink in.
“I’m still letting it soak in,” said Blackmon. “I don’t really know what happened, yet. I’m still kind of in shock. This feels really, really good coming off the season we just had. We have coaches that have won it, and they kept telling us, ‘You’ve get to get this feeling.’ Well, I can tell you it feels awesome.”
The Trojans last won the state title in 2004.