CHHS places five on All-State Team

Published 10:31 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

The accolades for members of the 2013 Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A State Champion Charles Henderson Trojans pour in almost daily.

On Sunday, the Alabama Sports Writers Association released its All-State Team, and the list was decorated with orange and blue.

Five Trojans made the team, including Joey Denison, who was also selected to the Super All-State Team which is made up of the 10 biggest producers in the state from all of the AHSAA’s six classifications.

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Denison, along with pitcher Houston Mabray and catcher Chase Smartt were selected for the All-State first team. Outfielder/pitcher Tripp Blackmon was picked as an honorable mention and head coach Derek Irons was tabbed as 4A Coach of the Year.

“I think that is extremely rare for a school to have this many on an All-State team,” Irons said. “It is a good honor and payoff for all the hard work these guys put in all season, and in years past.”

During the season, Denison led the Trojans in most offensive categories, including hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases. While many marveled at Denison’s bat, Irons said his glove work was a bright spot for the Trojans.

“His defense gets overlooked a lot, and maybe deservedly so,” Irons said. “We put Joey over at first a few years ago, and he struggled to start with. But he worked at it, and took ownership of that spot, and took pride in his defense. He made some great plays over there, with some digs and stretches, that helped us get some big outs.”

Denison was also selected at the 4A Hitter of the Year.

Mabray, the 2013 Messenger Player of the Year, and mound mate Tripp Blackmon also got nods to the team. Mabray was selected as a first teamer, and Blackmon was a honorable mention.

The duo combined to go 20-1 on the season, including a perfect 10-0 run in the playoffs, and an 1.65 ERA. Irons said that when either Mabray or Blackmon were on the hill, the rest of the Trojans played with more belief in themselves.

“They gave our entire team confidence,” Irons said. “As coach it is awesome to have guys like that on the mound that compete every pitch like they did. Our guys knew that we would have a chance to win every ball game that they pitched in.”

Smartt, just a sophomore, was named the first-team catcher. Smartt nipped at Denison’s heels on the offensive side of the ball, finishing second on the team in hits, RBIs and total bases.

On defense, Smartt proved to be a reliable and trustworthy target for the Charles Henderson pitching staff.

Smartt also caught 18 base runners stealing, and committed just five errors during the season.

Irons said that Smartt did the opposite of what many players do once the playoffs began.

“A lot of guys stay relaxed during the season, and then get tense and put pressure on themselves during the playoffs,” Irons said. “But Chase seemed to relax in the playoffs, and just had a mammoth two days in the state finals. He will be special for years to come.

Irons was picked as the 4A Coach of the Year, but said that his honor was a nod to the players.

“It is just something else that shows how good the team was,” said Irons. “They competed at a high level all season, and this honor is all theirs. I am honored to be a part.”