Tigers have seen heat before
When the first Chilton County batter steps into the box on Friday at Tallassee, he might be greeted by a 90 mph fastball.
No. 6 Tallassee will utilize elite pitching in the first-round baseball playoff series, but it won’t be anything the Tigers (15-17) haven’t seen before.
CCHS coach Josey Shannon before the season put together a brutal schedule to ready his team for the playoffs.
“I think our team is playing as loose and confident as we have all year,” Shannon said about a squad that had won five in a row before a 12-7 loss to Chelsea to end the regular season.
Still, hits might be at a premium against Tallassee ace Trey Cochran-Gill, who touches 90 miles an hour with his fastball, so CCHS will try to manufacture runs with aggressive baserunning and sacrifices.
Shannon said he looks at his lineup in groups of three and will try to have a mix of speed, bat handling and power in each grouping. So, fans might see speedy players like Trevor Thomas and Cameron Cummings in lineup spots that would normally be reserved for power hitters.
But Tallassee catcher Davis Knapp is one of the state’s best at stifling a running game.
Second-year Tallassee coach Adam Clayton said Cochran-Gill has been throwing to Knapp since their youth league days.
“They know each other and Davis knows what works for Trey and what’s not working, and he can relay that to the coaches,” Clayton said.
Clayton said this is the first time since 1998 that Tallassee (25-8) has won at least 20 games in a season, and he credits the success to his pitcher-catcher combination but also to a team batting average that has improved from about .280 last year to about .360 this season.
For CCHS, Shannon said Cummings and Chance Calloway could start on the mound in the first two games of the best-of-three series, which begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Southside Field.
Game 3 would be played at noon Saturday if necessary.
“Obviously, we’re hoping we can get to Game 3, and we have [ace Ben Handley] waiting,” Shannon said. “We’re just going to do our best to keep their hitters off balance, keep the score down and have a chance in the end.”