Charles Henderson baseball prepares for Gulf Coast Classic next week in Gulf Shores

Published 8:32 pm Friday, March 20, 2015

Messener Photo/Jennifer Wilson Jason Fleming applies a tag to a Greenville base runner.

Messener Photo/Jennifer Wilson
Jason Fleming applies a tag to a Greenville base runner.

For high schools around the area, spring break is finally here, and that means its time to sit back and relax.

But for Charles Henderson baseball, there is work to be done.

Sunday, the Trojans will travel to Gulf Shores, Ala., to compete in the Gulf Coast Classic. This will be the third-straight year Charles Henderson has made the trip to the gulf to be a part of one of the state’s biggest baseball tournaments of the year.

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With 35 total teams from Alabama and surrounding states, next week’s Gulf Coast Classic will provide Charles Henderson a valuable chance to compete against the area’s best teams.

“It’s (the tournament) one of the best tournaments in the state and the largest in the Southeast,” Charles Henderson head baseball coach Derek Irons said. “There are 35 teams from all over the Southeast, and it is a chance to play really strong competition as well as competition that is different. (We play) Teams from Arkansas, Huntsville and the coast that we don’t normally see.”

The tournament will operate in a pool play style, with teams playing three games over three days. The top four teams after the three days will square off in a semi-final and championship game on Thursday.

Charles Henderson will kick off the tournament on Monday when it faces off with Hazel Green High School at 4:30 p.m. at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. On Tuesday, the Trojans will play Foley at 7 p.m. at Foley High School. And on Wednesday, the team will finish out pool play against Valley View from Jonesboro, Ark., at 11:30 a.m. at Robertsdale High School.

Irons said he wanted his team to win all of its games and finish the week off with a championship, but more importantly, the head coach said he wanted his team to improve from the experience.

“I think first of all just playing good competition, whether you win or lose, you face a good pitcher and good team, you come out and compete hard, and you come out a better team,” Irons said. “One of our goals next week is to get better. We want to win all of our games, but number one is get better. It brings more excitement when you see teams you’ve never seen before.”

But make no mistake, Irons knows he has a team that can challenge for a title next week.

“I think we are pretty confident that if we play well and compete that we feel like we can compete with anybody,” Irons said. “That’s what I expect. I expect us to go down there and play focused and play four good and competitive baseball games. That’s the big challenge. We have it within us to do that.”

The key word to Charles Henderson’s success at this point in the season is just that: focus.

The Trojans have blown through much of their competition with relative ease so far this season with the exception of one trip up last week against Trinity.

Irons said the loss was not concerning to him. He chalked it up as the team failing to execute plays it normally would.

Add to that a stretch of four games in three days, and Irons agreed that his team just simply needed a break.

But now, with a few days off to prepare for the Classic, Irons is ready to compete with the best in the region, and ultimately, come out on top.

“Losses are going to happen,” Irons said. “Nobody is going to go undefeated. How we handle adversity is what is important. We faced that type of adversity this week. I didn’t really see any red flags on Tuesday. Most of them were plays that we execute most of the time. Trinity’s center fielder made two fantastic diving catches. We didn’t just give the game away to them. It wasn’t our day. But now we get ready to play next.”