Gettin’ crafty

Published 10:31 pm Monday, February 17, 2014

Blake Craft fires a pitch towards home plate during Charles Henderson’s rout of Elba on opening day. Craft stuck out 11 batters in just five innings of work. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Blake Craft fires a pitch towards home plate during Charles Henderson’s rout of Elba on opening day. Craft stuck out 11 batters in just five innings of work. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Strong pitching gets CHHS off to fast start

ANDALUSIA — Most of Elba’s batters quietly walked back to the dugout; some muttered words of encouragement to themselves and a couple pounded the barrel of the bat in to the dirt. All were results of becoming another victim for pitchers Blake Craft and Cole Wilson.

Charles Henderson used dominant pitching, and timely hitting to down Elba 14-3 on Monday at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia.

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Craft and Wilson combined for 16 strikeouts, and never had fewer than two in an inning. The big day surprised Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons.

“All we tell our guys to do is battle, and throw strikes,” said Irons. “You do that one batter at a time, and you don’t realize what has happened until the game is over. I am super proud of the way Blake and Cole competed on the mound today, and really excited about them getting better.”

While the Trojan pitching staff was handcuffing Tiger hitters at will, the Charles Henderson bats started the season cold.

The first eight batters of the season failed to reach base, but that all changed with one swing of the bat.

Reilly Fox smoked a ball down the right field line and raced all the way to third for the Trojans’ first hit of the year. Shortstop Hunter Baggett brought Fox home with a single later in the inning.

In the fourth, Charles Henderson used three singles and a triple from Xavius Burden, along with a couple of Elba miscues to plate five runs and take command of the game.

The pitching and defense took care of Elba the rest of the way, but the Trojan offense didn’t let up. After tacking on two insurance runs in the fifth and another in the sixth, Charles Henderson went to the whip again in the seventh.

The Trojans exploded with a two-out rally that included doubles from DeAndre Pitts, Chase Smartt and Wilson and singles off the bats of Baggett, Austin Ingram and John Michael Stephens.

Irons said there is still work to be done, but likes the adjustment his players made.

“The first time through the lineup wasn’t too good,” said Irons. “But each one made adjustments on their next trip and got better.”

Fox and Burden each went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead CHHs.

Craft got the win, going five innings, striking out 11 and scattering seven hits.

In the second half of the double header, Stephens continued the pitching dominance by going the distance and shutting out 6A Dothan, 7-0.

Charles Henderson’s home opener comes Thursday against Slocomb.