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Golden Tigers glad to be in ‘Classic’

GULF SHORES — The Russellville Golden Tigers baseball team took a road trip this week down to Gulf Shores to play in the Gulf Shores Classic tournament.

It may have ended up being one of the best decisions head coach Chris Heaps could have made for this particular week.

While the citizens of Russellville and other local teams are experiencing winter temperatures and watching snow fall, the Golden Tigers are down at the beach playing in sunshine and temperatures twice as warm as ours back home.

“Down here it’s cold, but the sun’s shining,” Heaps said. “We’re proud to be sunny and dry. It’s in the 60s here today; it’s not that pleasant.

“But it’s a whole lot better than Russellville I here. We made a good decision coming down here.”

Heaps got the idea for his team to make the trip after participating in the tournament last season with his former team.

“I came down here last year with Central-Phenix City, and we had a lot of success and won the tournament,” he said.

“We had such a good experience last year that I wanted our guys to come down and experience it this year. It’s been good for us so far. We’ve got Robertsdale (yesterday) at 5:30 [p.m.] and it’s supposed to be cool tonight.”

Truth be told the warm temperatures are just a by product and added benefit of being in the tournament.

The real reason for Russellville’s participation is playing games and gaining experience against teams not usually seen during the regular season.

One such team is the Pell City Panthers, who became yet another 6A defeated by the Golden Tigers this season.

“We played two games yesterday,” Heaps said. “We beat a pretty good Pell City team. They had a hard thrower, about a 90 mph guy coming at us.

“According to their parents we hit him better than anybody else has this year.

“We beat them 6-2. Embarrassingly we felt, though, we came in overconfident and lost to 3A Sipsey Valley.

“They were solid. We weren’t happy with the result. We lost 8-6. We got off to a very slow start and let them get a four or five run lead and then we had to fight back.”

Heaps said Logan Ezzell has been “on fire” in the batter’s box so far in the tournament and Jackson Smith has been getting some big hits as well.

The Golden Tigers have a few more days down near the white sandy shores of the gulf, but soon it will be back home and back to area play.

Until then, however, Russellville will get to spend a bit more time in more comfortable weather than we have here.

“Tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the 60s again and then it will get warmer,” Heaps said. “We’re supposed to be coming back home on Thursday. We’re definitely glad to see some sunshine.”