Year in review: Patriots reach championship, Trojans, Bulldogs and Rebels welcome new coaches

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The 2017 baseball season was marked with change and success. Three new teams welcomed in new coaches and the Pike Patriots finished their season in Montgomery in the championship series in February.

Charles Henderson welcomed in new head coach Josey Shannon, while Pike County named former Hoover assistant Taylor Barnes as their new head coach. After the sudden departure of former coach Bubba Nall, Ryan McNaughton filled in as head coach.

The Patriots of Pike Liberal Arts paced the success of the local teams in 2017. They finished the season with a 29-9 record and advanced all the way to the championship series against Glenwood at Montgomery’s Paterson Field.

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“This group has been such a pleasure to coach,” said head coach Allen Ponder following the season. “They battled through adversity all season long. We have a relatively young team; we had a group of sophomores that stepped up and did a great job. We had a great group of seniors that helped lead those guys.

The Patriots earned themselves a bye in the first round of the playoffs after they claimed the region championship.

On their way to Montgomery’s series, the Trojans swept both Lee-Scott and Morgan Academy. The Patriots took game one of the best two-out-of-three series, before dropping the final two games, giving the Gators their 22nd state title.

“I have to give Glenwood all the credit,” Ponder said after the championship. “Glenwood has been known all year for putting pressure on the defense; they make you make plays.”

During the season, Hunter Jones signed a scholarship to play baseball at Central Alabama Community College.

Shannon came to Charles Henderson by way of Stanhope Elmore. Shannon led the Trojans to an appearance in the state quarterfinals despite a slow start to the season. Charles Henderson lost 7 out of their last 10 games. From that point on, the Trojans rallied and won 15 out of their last 16 games and finished the season 20-13.

“It was tough on the players,” Shannon said. “People in the community start talking and wondering ‘Who did they hire?’ It was hard for me to keep saying ‘We will be fine.’ The hard part was keeping the kids believing that what were doing was right.”

The Trojans made easy work of their opponents in the first two rounds. They knocked out Dallas County in two games, while outscoring them 52-5.

The Trojans advanced to the third round to play Faith Academy. The Trojans lost to Faith Academy in straight games by the score of 14-4 and 14-1.

Charles Henderson’s Bryson Gandy and Jabronski Williams signed baseball scholarships with LBW-Andalusia and Wallace-Selma Community College. Carson Tucker signed with Enterprise State Community College.

The Goshen Eagles under head coach Robby Kinsaul, the Eagles closed out the season with a 14-9 record and a 2-2 area record. The Eagles finished behind Luverne in the area standings. They were forced to travel to play J.U. Blakesher in the opening round of the state playoffs. The Eagles struggled to score runs and they were defeated in two straight games 17-2 and 16-0 to end their season.

“We have a lot to look forward to next year,” Kinsaul said. We will have a big senior class.”

Cory Peterson was named to the all-star game after finishing the season with a .456 batting average.

Pike County finished the season with a 5-20 record after they picked up wins against Zion Chapel and Abbeville.

Pike Liberal Art’s Reed Jinright along with Goshen’s Cory Peterson, were named second-team all-state, while Charles Henderson’s Hunter Reeves was named honorable mention.