Patriots win Jonah McWaters championship

Published 8:29 pm Monday, March 4, 2019

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots knocked off Coosa Valley 7-4 on Saturday evening to claim the 2019 Jonah McWaters Tournament.

After winning both of their games on Friday afternoon, the Patriots knocked off Autauga 7-1 in the semifinals, clinching their spot in the tournament championship.

The undefeated run in the tournament for the Patriots improves their record on the season to 10-0.

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“Our kids played well,” said head coach Allen Ponder. “We played some quality opponents. We pitched well, I thought we swung the bats well for it being early in the season. Defensively, we still have to clean it up a little bit, but we are getting better.”

Most of the Patriot players are just now getting fully acclimated to playing baseball after so many of them played basketball. The Patriots ended their basketball season on February 15. This weekend’s tournament allowed the Patriots to play multiple games in a two-day span.

“This weekend was good for us just to get some games in,” Ponder said. “This early in the season we want to get in as many games as possible. The Lord blessed us with a little break in the rain and we were fortunate enough to get in some good ones.”

Not only did they play games, they played against quality opponents including Autauga and Pike’s semifinal opponent a year ago, Tuscaloosa Academy.

“Playing quality opponents puts you in situations early in the season that are great teaching moments,” Ponder said. “It did that for us this weekend. We had some moments in those games that allowed us to have teaching moments that well help us down the road.”

The Patriot pitchers held opponents to nine runs in their four games. They allowed just one combined run against Tuscaloosa Academy and Autauga Academy.

Tripp Spivey pitched a complete game for the Patriots in game one on Friday and Holt Steed followed up with a complete game shutout against Tuscaloosa Academy.

In the semifinal round, Jade Sikes, Drew Nelson and Trevor Barron allowed just one run to the Generals on three hits. Clay Barron pitched five innings in the championship game to help the Patriots get the win.

“This early in the season, the pitch counts aren’t real high, so we try to stress to our guys to attack the zone and throw strikes,” Ponder said. “Our guys did an outstanding job at doing that this weekend. I was very impressed with our pitching staff all weekend.”

The Patriots finished with 19 total hits in the final two games of the tournament on Saturday afternoon and evening. Davis Allen went a perfect 4-4 with 5 RBI in the semifinal game and finished 6-7 overall in the final two rounds of the tournament with six RBI.

“He is as hot as a firecracker,” Ponder said. “He swung the bat extremely well this weekend. You’re blessed every now and then as a hitter when the ball comes in looking like a beach ball. That’s what it was for Davis this weekend. Davis has put in a ton of work. He understands that when you work hard, it pays off – and it’s paying off right now.”

The Patriots will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Macon East Academy at 3:30 p.m.