Charles Henderson preps for Gulf Shores tournament, area play

Published 2:11 am Friday, March 22, 2013

The Charles Henderson Trojans have had nearly a full week to rest up, and prepare for a stretch of games that will measure them.

Charles Henderson (16-1) is ranked No. 1 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association polls, and has not lost a ball game since Feb. 28. The Trojans have played just two games in the past nine days, winning both over region foe Bullock County, but are beginning a five day stretch that will see them hit the diamond nearly a dozen times.

“It’s just a strange thing in the schedule,” said Irons. “With the testing this week, we weren’t able to play. With spring break next week, I believe we have at least eight games coming up against some really quality opponents from all over the state. It will be busy for sure.”

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The Trojans welcome in Andalusia and UMS-Wright to Troy on Friday for a double header, and will play two more at home on Saturday against Stanhope-Elmore and Sipsey Valley. On Monday, Charles Henderson will make the long trek to Gulf Shores to take part in the Gulf Coast Classic tournament.

The tournament brings in some of the top teams from Alabama, and beyond, which is something that Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons is excited about.

“We want to compete, and see how we stack up,” said Irons. “We are bringing in some good teams to our place, and heading to Gulf Shores to play some good teams down there. We will see some really good teams over the next few games, but those teams will see a good team as well.”

Playing multiple games in a day, and a handful over the course of a small stretch requires, as Irons says, “sound, efficient pitching.”

The Trojans have been blessed with good outings from the entire rotation this season, including Houston Mabray, Blake Craft, Brantley LeCroy, Tripp Blackmon, Xavius Burden and Austin Ingram.

Irons said he is comfortable that his pitching staff can get the job done multiple days in a row.

“If I have ever had a team with the pitching depth to play this many games in this many days, then this is it,” said Irons. “We have eight guys that I feel really good about putting out there on the mound. We still need to attack the strike zone, and be efficient, so that we don’t have long innings and high pitch counts.”

Upon returning from Gulf Shores, Charles Henderson will turn the corner for home on the season. But standing between the Trojans and the playoffs will be two region contests against Headland, and games against Ashford, Brantley and rival Enterprise.

Irons said the end of the year comes quicker than the players realize, and he has worked to get that point across.

“After spring break, we come back and the playoffs are right around the corner,” Irons said. “It seems like the season always does this, but we have talked with the guys about not getting complacent. There is still a lot of baseball to be played between here and where we want to be.”

The Trojans host Andalusia and UMS-Wright on Friday at Riddle-Pace Field at Troy University. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.