Making a statement

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Johnson (1) gets a high five from Charles Henderson trainer Dave Bush after blasting a home run in the second inning. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

John Johnson (1) gets a high five from Charles Henderson trainer Dave Bush after blasting a home run in the second inning. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

In Thursday’s crucial area game against Ashford, the top of the Charles Henderson lineup did exactly what it is designed to do: manufacture runs.

The Trojans’ three hole hitter Chase Smartt went 2-for-4 with a pair of three-run homers, John Johnson, the No. 2 man in the lineup went 4-for-4, finishing a triple away from the cycle and knocking in two runs and scoring three.

Hunter Baggett, Charles Henderson’s lead off man picked up an RBI and scored a pair of runs as well.

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Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons liked what he saw from the top guys in the order.

“The top of the lineup did exactly what they are supposed to do,” said Irons. “We have them there to get on base and get guys in. They hit the ball really well today.”

Smartt started the day 0-for-2, with a pair of ground ball outs, but ended the afternoon with two giant homeruns.

Smartt’s first bomb of the day was a line drive to left field that easily cleared the blue monster and sailed deep in to the swamp beyond the trees.

The second homer, which brought an end to the game via the mercy rule, was a cloud scraper that just eked over the extended wall in left field.

“Before the game I told myself to relax and just swing,” said Smartt. “If I am able to relax, I know the rest of the guys will do it too. Today was a good day for all of us.”

Johnson’s started hot and ended even hotter. The soft-spoken centerfielder roped a double on his first at-bat, and homered to center on a laser beam shot on his second trip to the plate.

He ended his day with a pair of singles, one on a bunt, but came up just a triple shy of the cycle.

“I really, really wanted to get the cycle, but we won the game and in the end that is all that matters,” said Johnson. “I saw the ball well today and I was able to help my team.”

Ashford picked up two runs in the second inning, but pitcher Xavius Burden quelled the rally and went the rest of the way.

Burden allowed seven hits, but struck out six Yellow Jacket batters and walked just one.

Irons said Burden’s toughness pushed him through the rough inning.

“Xa is just a super tough guy,” said Irons. “He is mentally tough, and I think playing football helps him out there. He competes his tail off every inning.”

With the win, Charles Henderson will have home-field advantage for the first of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs that begin next week.

The Trojans are 24-1 at home in the last two seasons, and Irons likes to play at home.

“It is huge for us to play at home,” said Irons. “We feel like this place, Hogan’s Hole, is a very special play come playoff time. Charles Henderson has one of the most-unique environments in the state. I am super happy for our younger guys to be able to experience this, and for our older guys to get to do it one more time.”

Charles Henderson will play a pair of games at Northview on Saturday before closing out the regular season against 1A Brantley on Tuesday at Frazier Field at Hogan’s Hole.