After a first-round bye, the Glenwood baseball gets its playoff baseball started against Bessemer in the second round of the AISA Class 3A playoffs on Thursday.
The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with the rubber match played Friday if necessary.
Glenwood (28-9) has performed well this season on the back of strong pitching, but coach Tim Fanning said he knows anything can happen in the playoffs.
Bessemer is a team that has steadily improved this season, he said, and is peaking at the right time.
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The Gators defeated Bessemer 11-2 earlier this year.
“They’ve gotten a lot better, though,” Fanning said. “They played competitive games against Tuscaloosa Academy, which is the favorite in the playoffs. They’re playing with a lot of momentum. It’s extremely dangerous. One thing about baseball is that you can do scouting reports, but if you execute, you’re going to have a chance to win.”
That, of course, goes for both teams.
Glenwood’s pitching has kept it in most games this season and the hitting has become a strength as the season has gone along.
“If we’re patient and don’t make many mistakes, we’ll be in good shape,” Fanning said.
Tanner Thomason will get the ball in the first game with Lawson Humphries to follow in Game 2.
Glenwood lost in the second round to eventual champion Tuscaloosa Academy a year ago.
Chance for revenge
Recent history between the Auburn and Smiths Station baseball teams has favored the former.
After the Panthers took home the area championship last season, the Tigers spoiled their postseason hopes with a second-round playoff sweep to end the season. This year, Auburn has continued its good play with a three-game sweep of Smiths Station in March.
Now, the Panthers have a chance to return the favor.
The two teams meet in the AHSAA Class 6A second round beginning with a doubleheader Friday. If the teams split, they will play the rubber match on Saturday.
It’s a complete reverse from the position the two teams were in a year ago, with Auburn on a hot streak against the heavily favored Panthers.
This time, it is Smiths Station (21-15) entering the game on an eight-game winning streak, and coach Mike Ferry knows anything can go.
“Last year doesn’t really mean anything to us,” he said on Saturday after his team’s first-round sweep of Lee-Montgomery. “We know we can compete with Auburn this year. Even though they beat us three times, all the games were pretty close and we feel like we’re maybe a little more prepared now.”
He has a point.
The Panthers, who lost the majority of their starting lineup from last year’s team, have put together an impressive late-season run, driven by a pair of sophomore pitchers, Max Newton and Blake Rivera.
Things may have gone against them the first time, but Ferry said it only matters what they do now.
“We’ve got an opportunity, and that’s all that matters,” he said.
Jockeying for position
With the end of the regular season coming closer, a handful of Columbus area high school teams are still jockeying for playoff position.
Most notable is the race in Region 1-AAAAA that has been in a dead heat between Hardaway and Harris County for the entire season.
Harris County split a doubleheader with the Hawks on Monday, giving it control of its own destiny in the region. With the Hawks loss to Northside on Wednesday, the Tigers now have the opportunity to clinch the region title with at least a split against Thomas County Central in their doubleheader on Friday.
Hardaway can still win the region if Harris County is swept. Otherwise, it will end up with the No. 2 seed and Northside with the No. 3 seed.
In Class AAAA, Columbus’ playoff position has been decided. For the first time in 11 years, the Blue Devils will play from the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs after Carrollton clinched the region title with a win over LaGrange on Tuesday.
Brookstone has control of Region 4-A with a 9-1 region record. Schley County is two games behind at 7-3. The two teams meet on Thursday and Friday with the region title up for grabs. A split or better would give the Cougars the title, while a sweep by Schley County would earn it the title.
In Class A, only the region champion is guaranteed a playoff spot, though Brookstone is in good standing at 12th in the power ratings.
In Region 5-AA, if Jordan swept its doubleheader against Manchester on Wednesday, then it clinched a playoff berth. If it split, then run differential would come into play.