Thorsby’s Carroll, Argent are player, coach of year

Published 3:07 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

By Stephen Dawkins

When Ab Argent agreed to the job before the 2005 season, he was told he couldn’t win as coach of the Thorsby baseball team.
Six seasons—and 132 wins, six playoff berths, four area championships and three appearances in the state playoff quarterfinals—later, the doubts still motivate Argent.
But perhaps the greatest testament to the job Argent has done is the fact that his players motivate themselves, as evidenced by a commitment to strength training last summer that helped the Rebels earn a ranking as high as No. 2 last season and make the third of those quarterfinal berths.
And the greatest example of that offseason commitment is junior pitcher Cody Carroll , who compiled a 12-2 record with a 1.85 earned run average and 96 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings pitched. His dominance was best demonstrated in a five-inning no-hitter at Ashville and a performance at Vincent in which Carroll was one out away from a perfect game but gave up an infield hit.
“We could’ve played 20 innings and they wouldn’t have been able to hit him,” Argent said.
Carroll is The Clanton Advertiser’s Baseball Player of the Year, and Argent the Coach of the Year.
After the 2009 season, when Thorsby was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time in Argent’s tenure, coaches and players agreed something more had to be done if the Rebels were going to achieve the success they wanted.
So, each team member began making three visits a week to Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness, where they worked with trainer Barry Baker. The Rebels even continued the routine as they began playing regular season games.
“We told Barry not to cut them any slack, and he didn’t,” Argent said. “In the beginning, it wasn’t any fun. He said, ‘y’all will thank me later.’”
And they did, after the players realized how much their offseason work helped them on the field—and in their heads.
“We had a little more swagger this year than in the past,” Carroll said.
Carroll added 15 pounds of muscle (he weighs 190 pounds) in a year and added about 10 miles an hour to his fastball (he was clocked at 82 mph during the season). Carroll also grew a few inches, yielding a 6’2” frame Argent said college coaches will find attractive.
“His better days of baseball are ahead of him,” Argent said but added that Carroll must continue to work. “If you get content with where you’re at, you’re not going to improve.”
Argent talks like his own baseball future will include much of the same.
THS features varsity players like Carroll who are willing to go the extra mile to be successful, a youth league with all the tools necessary to produce capable players, and a school and community proud of their baseball program and willing to support it.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else, really,” Argent said. “It’s hard for me to believe I’ve ever been anywhere but here.”
But Argent said the best part about his job is that Thorsby isn’t so big or stressful that his daughters, 9-year-old Adi and 4-year-old Sarah Beth, can’t be a part of the program.
Adi wakes up ready for the day’s game and even gets in on the strategy.
“We’re up in Lexington, quarterfinals of the playoffs, and I’m sitting there on the bucket, into the game, and there’s this tap on my shoulder,” Argent said. “I turn around, and it’s her. She says, “What (pitch) do we got called? I look at her for a minute, and I say, ‘fastball away.’
“It’s one of those moments you just can’t explain.”