Charles Henderson prepares for first round Trojan War

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, April 17, 2014

For the 16th straight season, the Charles Henderson Trojans are in the state title hunt.

Charles Henderson, the defending state champion and current No. 1 team in the ASWA poll, will open the 2014 Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs at home Friday afternoon.

The St. James Trojans will make the short trip down U.S. Highway 231 from Montgomery to meet Charles Henderson in the first round.

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St. James is 15-10, and the runner-up in Area 4.

Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons expects a big challenge from St. James.

“We know first hand how good those teams from Montgomery are,” said Irons. “There is no doubt that St. James is a really, really good baseball team. We will have to play solid baseball every pitch of every inning to take care of business.”

Charles Henderson cruised through the first round of the 2013 playoffs against Brewbaker Tech. Charles Henderson scored wins of 3-1 and 20-1.

Charles Henderson is 19-3 at home this season, and Irons likes playing in front of the hometown crowd.

“We feel like we have one of the best atmospheres in high school baseball,” said Irons. “I am happy for our younger guys to be able to experience it, and for our older guys to be able to do it one more time.”

Senior John Michael Stephens will get the ball in game one for Charles Henderson.

Stephens, a signee of Central Alabama Community College, is 7-2 in 2014 with a 1.31 ERA. He leads the team in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. Xavius Burden is expected to pitch the second game of the twin bill. Burden is 6-1 with a 2.52 ERA and 49 strikeouts.

Chase Smartt leads the Charles Henderson offense in almost every category. Smartt carries a .417 average. 14 doubles and four triples in to the first round match up.

Charles Henderson and St. James get underway at 4:30 p.m. at Frazier Field. The second game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first.