Bibb County, Charles Henderson have a lot in common

Published 10:29 pm Thursday, May 1, 2014

Not too many high school baseball programs in the state can go toe-to-toe with Charles Henderson when it comes to tradition. But Bibb County is one that can.

Bibb County High School located in Centreville, a town of just 2,300 citizens, boasts four former professional players and dozens of college and junior college baseball stars. The Choctaws captured the 4A state championship in 2001, and boast over a dozen area titles in the past two decades.

“We may not know the names, but we are familiar with them, because they are kind of built like we are historically,” said Charles Henderson head Derek Irons. “They always seem to find a way to make a deep run in the playoffs. I have known Coach (Nick) Richardson for a long time. He does a great job, and always has them ready to play.”

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Irons is very familiar with the Bibb County program, having met the Choctaws on the diamond dozens of times in the past.

“When I coached in the Tuscaloosa area, Bibb County was a team that played quite a bit,” said Irons. “They have come down to Troy a couple of times to play in our tournament and other games. Bibb is a team that doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, and likes to put pressure on the opponent. We are very similar.”

Bibb County beat Jemison 4-3 and 10-0 in the second round, while Charles Henderson bested Alabama Christian 5-3 and 10-5. As the Alabama High School Athletic Association baseball playoffs reach the half-way point, only eight teams remain.

Charles Henderson, Bibb County, Andalusia and Childersburg represent the south in 4A, while Haleyville, Ardmore, Jacksonville and Oneonta are the final four in the north. Irons believes it is honor just to make it as far as Charles Henderson has.

“When you get down to the quarterfinals, there are nothing but really good teams left,” said Irons. “It is super hard to find a big weakness in any of the teams left. You don’t make it to the quarterfinals without being a really solid team.”

But don’t expect the Trojans to travel to Centreville on a leisure trip. The Trojans will travel to Clanton and stay overnight Thursday night, and make the rest of the trip Friday afternoon. Irons feels the experience past overnight trips will pay dividends this week.

“A lot of the guys were with us last year, and kind of know how we like to do things on overnight trips,” said Irons. “We will take some BP or something light in the morning just to get up and get moving, and then eat lunch and rest a little before going to the stadium. It is a business trip for us.”

The Trojans will use the same pitching rotation it has used for the first two rounds of the playoffs. John Michael Stephens will get the ball to start game one, and Xavius Burden will pitch game two.

The quarterfinal series will feature a doubleheader on Friday, with the if-needed game taking place on Saturday.

First pitch is set for 5 p.m. Friday in Centreville.