Hot Westbrook Christian next up for Bobcats
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
After getting past Falkville in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, the Phil Campbell Bobcats will pack their bags today and head to Rainbow City for a second-round, best-of-three battle with Westbrook Christian.
The teams will play a doubleheader today beginning at 4 p.m., and game three (if necessary) will be played Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Bobcats will be facing a hot team in the Warriors, who have won nine of their last 10 games since starting the season 10-8.
Westbrook Christian finished second to West End-Walnut Grove in Area 11 and then defeated Cordova 8-0 in Tuesday's first round.
Kennedy is no stranger to playoff baseball, having guided Westbrook Christian to the Class 2A state finals in 1998. The Warriors, who were led by senior pitcher/shortstop Brodie Croyle, lost to G.W. Long in Montgomery.
Kennedy left Westbrook Christian after the 1999 season but returned this year to lead the Warriors back into the playoffs. He said this year's team is quite different than the 1998 squad.
Catcher Michael Duncan, who is second on the team with a .380 batting average, is Westbrook Christian's lone senior.
Junior Trey Vice leads the team with a .395 average and is also the ace of the pitching staff with a 10-1 record.
The 6-foot-2 lefthander, whose fastball tops out in the mid-eighties, held Cordova to one hit (a bunt single) and struck out 11 in Tuesday's first-round win.
Sophomore Seth Stone, who plays first or third base depending on who's pitching, is also one of the team's leading hitters with a .373 average.
Kennedy said his team has a rather laid-back approach to the game.
Kennedy said his players' even-keeled approach will help them not be intimidated by the Bobcats, who advanced all the way to last year's state finals before falling to G.W. Long.
Kennedy said he recognizes the importance of having pitching depth in a best-of-three series. Junior righthanders Chip Knighten and Tyler James are the Warriors' second and third starters.
Phil Campbell's pitching depth will also be under the microscrope this weekend, particularly with the availability of ace lefthander Griffin Harris in question due to a sore throwing shoulder.
Bobcat coach Michael Beck said Harris would have pitched on Tuesday against Falkville had his arm permitted him. Instead, sophomore Jonathan Dill (8-2) got the start and held the Blue Devils to one earned run in six innings.
Beck said on Thursday that he hopes to have Harris, who hasn't pitched in two weeks, available for mound duty in this weekend's series.
The Bobcats pounded out 12 hits against Falkville, including three home runs by senior catcher Randy Cochran. Cochran and Harris were a combined 7-for-7 with eight RBIs and five runs scored in the 13-4 win.
Harris leads Phil Campbell with a batting average over .600 and seven home runs on the season. Cochran is batting near .450 with five homers.
Beck said the Bobcats will need steady contributions from their less experienced players (sophomores Caleb Thompson and Tate Canida and freshmen Korey Pounders and Adam Mitchell) if they are to continue advancing.
Cochran said the youngsters should be more confident with one game of playoff experience under their belts.