Bobcats, Tigers prep for post-season play
The Phil Campbell Bobcats and Red Bay Tigers find themselves in familiar territory: readying for a postseason play-off run.
Both teams won their respective areas and will host the first round of the playoffs beginning this weekend. Phil Campbell will host New Hope at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, plus Saturday at noon if necessary. Red Bay will host Collinsville Friday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as Saturday at noon, if necessary.
Severe weather and rain are threatening to roll in late Thursday night into Friday morning, which could affect the games. School officials will notify the public as soon as possible if the schedule will be impacted by the weather
Phil Campbell and Red Bay enter the playoffs in different scenarios.
Phil Campbell moved from Class 2A to Class 3A and lost five seasoned seniors in the process. So, while Bobcat coach Jonathan Raper has some experience on the field, for the most part, it is very young team – however, a very hot young team. The Bobcats are 26-6 and winners of 21 of their past 23 games.
“Early in the year, I thought we had a chance to have one of the better teams I’ve had since I’ve been at Phil Campbell,” said Raper. “I just thought it would take some time and maybe even another year for it to gel. While we had some power last year, this year we have speed, and these guys work so hard at getting better.”
Raper said he likes where his team is, heading into the playoffs.
“I think we are playing good baseball right now,” Raper explained. “I think we could always improve in all areas of the game, but if we throw strikes and play good defense, we should have a chance in the playoffs.”
Raper had a chance to scout New Hope in person last week when the team beat Westminster Christian.
“They played very good defense and hit the ball well,” said Raper. “They threw a lefty with a good fastball and curve. They closed with a righty. They tried to bunt a lot.
“They also have a lot of seniors,” Raper added. “I think they are very solid, and we’ll have to show up ready to play good baseball.”
Red Bay, on the other hand, enters the playoffs with an abundance of senior experience and leadership. The Tigers boast seven seniors, and this is Tiger coach Richard Maggerise’s fourth play-off appearance in five years. The Tigers are 16-8 and have won 13 of their past 16 games.
“Honestly, it’s been the senior leadership we have that’s got us to this point,” said Maggerise. “They all contribute. The guys know how to prepare and focus on games.”
Red Bay struggled a little in the middle of the season, and Maggerise credits his senior leadership with turning things around. “We kind of hit a rough spot during the middle of the season, and the guys rallied around each other and focused on getting better each day.”
Maggerise said if his team is going to make a run through the playoffs, he’s going to have to trust the ones who got the team this far.
“I can’t say enough about how hard those guys have worked this year,” said Maggerise. “To achieve what they have is a testament to their work ethic.”