Local baseball teams off to impressive early-season records thanks to pitching success, efficiency

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ask almost any native of Troy and they will tell you that the city is without a doubt a “baseball town.”

From the historic run by the Chase Riddle led Troy State teams in the 1980’s, to the multiple state title game appearances by Charles Henderson High School and Pike Liberal Arts and World Series signs decorate the outfields at the majority of the recreation parks across the city.

Currently, four local teams are dominating their respective competition. Troy University is 8-3 on the season, and fresh off a series win over nationally-ranked Southern Mississippi. Charles Henderson is off to a big start in the 4A ranks, and was ranked no. 1 in the state by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

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Pike Liberal Arts, the defending 2012 AISA 3A State Champions, are well on their way to another trip to Patterson Field in Montgomery in May. Not to be outdone by the city schools, Goshen High School is currently 4-0 officially, with two forfeit games pending.

In total, the four area baseball teams are 31-5. Though the teams encompass three different classifications, Troy in the NCAA, Pike Liberal Arts is an AISA member and Charles Henderson and Goshen participate in the Alabama High School Athletic Association, all the teams possess a common bond: good pitching.

The Charles Henderson Trojans have combined to give up three hits in the past two games, and use a fleet of pitchers to retire batters. Luke Hastings, Brantley LeCroy, Austin Ingram, Trip Blackmon, Houston Mabray and Xavier Burden have a combined 2.37 ERA, and have combined to strike out 49 batters through 10 games.

Pike Liberal Arts has used Taytom Barnes and Chandler Avant for the bulk of the load early in the season, but has also turned to Robert Benton and other arms to break out to the hot start.

Goshen has been led on the mound by Bryant Stephens, Jared Maddox and Austin Rushing through the early season run.

Troy University has received good outings from Will Starling, Shane McCain, Tanner Hicks, Matthew Howard and Nate Hill among others.

Charles Henderson travels to Montgomery to take part in the FCA Tournament on Thursday, Pike Liberal Arts travels to Hooper Academy, Goshen hits the road to battle Highland Home and Troy has the day off to prepare for a weekend series against Hartford.