Year in Review: Patriots’ state championship highlights exciting 2018 baseball season
Published 6:50 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018
A state championship highlighted the 2018 baseball season.
After coming up just short in 2017, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots returned to Mobile for a rematch against Glenwood for the state championship. The Patriots swept the Gators, earning their first state championship since 2012.
The Patriots were one of three local teams to make the postseason in 2018, joining Charles Henderson, Goshen and Ariton.
The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots finished the regular season with an area championship after completing the regular season with a dominating 27-4 record.
Pike went into the postseason as a number one overall seed and after a first-round bye – the Patriots hosted a round 2 playoff series against Lee-Scott. The Patriots swept the series and outscored the Warriors by a total of 21-5. After winning a tight game one 6-3, the Patriots, led by Nathan Renfroe, steamrolled the Warriors in game two, winning 15-2. Renfroe hit two homeruns in the game.
The Patriots advanced to the semifinals where they played Tuscaloosa Academy. After losing game one to Tuscaloosa, Wood Jinright singled in Davis Allen for a game-winning run, sending the series to game three. Jade Sikes and Drew Nelson pitched the Trojans to a game three win, sending them to Montgomery for the state championship.
The Patriots had little trouble in Montgomery, defeating Glenwood by scores of 3-0 and 11-1.
“Our guys were ready to go,” said Patriot head coach Allen Ponder. “We worked toward this all year long. From the first pitch of the season, we envisioned this matchup. Our kids have worked their tails off this year to make sure we didn’t end up with the same result. I am so proud of these kids. We are so blessed.”
In July, the accolades kept coming for the Patriots. The National Athletic Association of Private Schools Division 3 National Champions.
The Charles Henderson Trojans entered the season with Josey Shannon as head coach. When the season came to a close, former Enterprise assistant Matt Whitton was at the helm.
The Trojans started the season 0-7 and on February 26, Shannon resigned.
“We accepted coach Shannon’s resignation this morning,” said Charles Henderson principal Brock Kelley following the resignation. “Coach Shannon has some family issues that he felt like he needed to take care of. We thought it would be best for the program and for coach Shannon.”
On March 6, Whitton was named head coach.
Whitton and the Trojans finished the regular season with an overall record of 11-20 after starting 0-9.
The Trojans hosted the first round of the state playoffs against St. Paul’s. The Saints swept the Trojans by scores of 14-7 and 12-0.
“We’ve got a really good group of kids,” Whitton said. “We’re going to end up being a really good ball club. Looking forward, it’s good to see how many we have coming back. We are going to work this fall, summer and spring and we’ll be ready. They believe we are going to be better in the spring and so do I.”
The Goshen Eagles finished the regular season with a 7-15 overall record. Despite their record, the Eagles advanced to the postseason and won a series when they swept Keith by scores of 11-4 and 12-2. It marked the first time under head coach Robby Kinsaul that the Eagles made it past round one.
“It’s a great feeling, especially for our nine seniors,” Kinsaul said after the series win. “I am so proud for them. It’s a really good feeling. I am just so happy for them and the rest of the guys on the team.”
The Eagles hosted Ariton in round two of a large, energized crowd.
The Purple Cats got the better of Goshen, sweeping the Eagles by scores of 10-0 and 11-1.
The Pike County Bulldogs finished the 2017 season with just five wins under first-year head coach Taylor Barnes. In year two, the goal was to make it to 10 wins. They reached their goal and ended their season with a 10-15 record.
Shortly following the end of the season, Barnes announced he would be leaving to take a coaching job in northern Alabama.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to coach there,” Barnes said. “To be able to coach there and teach there was an absolutely wonderful experience for me. It’s an experience I will never forget and, honestly, it’s a tough one to leave. I really love those guys and I am proud of what they have done.”
After the Ariton Purple Cats ended Goshen’s season, they headed south to Mobile to take on St. Luke’s Episcopal. The Cats were swept in two games by scores of 15-2 and 14-2.