STATE BOUND: Charles Henderson Trojans prepare to play St. Paul’s Episcopal School in deciding match up
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2015
By Dan Smith
There will be no trophy presentation at the conclusion of the series, but with all due respect to the teams of north Alabama, the winner of the Class 5A state baseball championship may very well be decided this Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, when the Trojans of Charles Henderson High visit perennial power St. Paul’s Episcopal School at Mobile.
It is a quarter-final matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2, and two of the most successful teams in recent years.
The Trojans will take a 35-2 overall record and ASWA No. 1 ranking to Mobile, while St. Paul’s stands at 37-2 and holds a No. 2 ranking.
St. Paul’s has won more baseball, football, basketball – you name the sport – state championships in the last 20 years than probably any school in the state. 178 to be exact, from track and field to baseball to football to girls’ volleyball.
CHHS has won back-to-back state championships in Class 4A, and returned to Class 5A this season.
The Trojans won a school-record 34 games in 2008, and in the last three years Head Coach Derek Irons has guided CHHS to 35 wins in 2013, 2014 and now again in 2015.
“We’re very excited to be one of the final eight teams remaining out of 60 teams that started this season in 5A baseball,” said Coach Irons. “St. Paul’s is one of the most successful programs in the state and we are looking forward to competing against them this weekend. Our program has had some great series’ against them in the playoffs over the years and we certainly expect this will be another one.”
St. Paul’s has won AHSAA baseball state championships in 1994, 1999, 2000 and in 2003, while making it deep in the playoffs many other years.
What is in the past is to be respected, but past accomplishments will not factor into this series. This Friday both teams will fight for all of their worth to advance to the next round.
St. Paul’s won their first two rounds of the playoffs against Escambia County and Faith Academy, which CHHS took two from Beauregard and Rehobeth.
“This is our sixth quarter-final appearance in the last eight years, so I am really proud of our program, and that these guys have stepped in and done such a good job and kept it going,” Coach Irons said following Friday’s second win over Rehobeth. “Jason Fleming was great in Game 1. They are so tough to get out. Jason comes in at a tough spot, he is a senior, gives us two-plus innings of relief, and I am so proud of him as a senior and stepping up.
“Offensively we scored 24 runs against a Top 10 team in the state. We are always glad to be moving on, and we never want to take moving on for granted or the quarter-finals for granted. We started with 60 teams in 5A baseball and we are down to eight, and we are one of them. I am very proud of that.”
Game times begin at 4 p.m. Friday for a double-header, with an if-necessary game set for 12-noon Saturday.