Sports Year in Review, Part 1

Published 4:54 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Perfect pitching: Thorsby senior pitcher Cody Carroll recorded a perfect game—no baserunners allowed—on April 8 against rival Isabella. Carroll later helped the Rebels to the deepest playoff run in school history.

Editor’s note: In the next several days, The Clanton Advertiser will revisit some of the top sports stories of 2011. Below are memorable stories from January through April.


Thorsby girls, Chilton boys win county tournament titles

Chilton County’s boys basketball team and Thorsby’s girls have established dynasties in the Chilton County Basketball Tournament.

CCHS won its ninth consecutive tournament championship, 57-45 over Maplesville on Jan. 15, but this title is noteworthy because it’s the first in the streak to come while the team was not under the direction of former coach Donnie Hand (Cain Young was on the bench instead).

For Thorsby, who won 40-27 over Verbena, it was the second county title in the past four seasons, and the Rebels made the championship game in both of the other seasons.

THS shows support for breast cancer awareness

Thorsby’s girls basketball team defeated Maplesville, 45-33, but the focus on Jan. 31 seemed to be an opponent common to not just players from both teams but to people across the world: the fight against breast cancer.

A portion of the proceeds from the game was to be donated to the Bruno Cancer Center at St. Vincent’s hospital in Birmingham.

Also, several Thorsby students walked the perimeter of the court with boxes for donations.

The idea for the school’s first Breast Cancer Awareness Night came from these girls, a group of fourth and third graders, calling themselves the “Sweet Girls,” who decided they wanted to do something to promote a cause that has touched them already in their young lives.


Four Tigers qualify for state meet

Chilton County High School’s presence at the state wrestling meet continues to grow.

Four Tigers qualified for the event at the Class 5A, Section 1 tournament on Feb. 11 and 12, doubling the number that went the previous season.

Seniors Colby Bernier and Dylan Jackson advanced to the state finals at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, and the team finished ninth in the state overall.


McGehee leads Jemison basketball turnarounds

Turning around a basketball program in one season is remarkable.

Stacy McGehee turned around two basketball programs in two years.

The Clanton Advertiser’s basketball coach of the year led Jemison’s boys basketball team from a winless season in 2008-09 to seven wins in McGehee’s first year, in 2009-10, and a winning record, 14-13, in 2010-11.

McGehee said he has been told by people close to the program that it was Jemison’s boys first winning season since the mid-1980s.

McGehee took control of the girls team this season, leading that set of Panthers to an 11-13 record one year after posting only four wins.

Chilton County High School’s Grantland Karn was named the Advertiser’s Boys Player of the Year, and Thorsby’s Sharonda Cooper was the Girls Player of the Year.

New football team wins first game

The Central Alabama Red Devils won their first game of the season, 18-0, over Clay County on March 6.

A new program, the Red Devils competed in the National Developmental Football League and played their home games at Maplesville’s George Walker Jr. Stadium.

Tigers win another county baseball tournament

Chilton County rolled to its fifth consecutive county baseball tournament title in as many appearances.

The Tigers didn’t compete in the event the past two seasons, but on March 12 defeated defending champion Jemison, 17-4, at Jack Hayes Field in Clanton.

JHS was playing its fifth game in six days, and the Panthers faded late in the game.

Tigers also win county softball tournament

Chilton County avenged a loss last season in a similar position and defeated Jemison, 3-0, on March 28 in the championship game of the Chilton County Softball Tournament.

The Panthers snuck by CCHS, 2-1, last season behind a dominating pitching performance, but this time it was Chilton pitcher Brianna Cleckler shutting down the opposition in the title game and earning tournament Most Valuable Player honors.


Rebels boys, girls win weightlifting titles

Thorsby’s boys weightlifting team won the Class 2A state championship for the second consecutive year on April 2, and their girls counterparts won the 1A-2A championship.

THS had four male athletes win individual state titles: Kalup Nunn, Jonathan Spivey, Kip Cleckley and Colton Castleberry.

The Rebels boys and girls combined to finish second as a team in the 1A-6A competition, behind only a 5A school.

Golf tournament keeps getting bigger

The Chilton County Golf Tournament continues to grow. On April 4, the event was held for the third time, and for the third consecutive year, the tournament included more teams than it did the year before.

This time the newcomer was Maplesville. Another trend continued for the third consecutive year: The tournament was won by Chilton County High School. The Tigers’ five best golfers combined for a score of 321 on 18 holes at Montevallo Golf Club.

Thorsby’s Carroll tosses perfect game

Thorsby’s Cody Carroll is one of the best pitchers in the state’s 2A classification, and he had extra motivation during an April 8 game against Isabella.

The result: Carroll pitched the first perfect game—no hits or walks allowed—of his varsity career as the fourth-ranked Rebels clinched their third consecutive area championship with a 16-0, five-inning win.

Carroll struck out nine of the 15 batters he faced. Only two Isabella hitters, Andrew Smith and Trey Calfee, got the ball out of the infield. Both lifted fly balls to right fielder Jace Maddox in the third inning.

Etheridge is Auburn Club’s Unsung Hero

If Zac Etheridge inspired the Chilton Auburn Club as he did the 2010 Tigers football team, the club’s annual Unsung Hero Banquet could have been the best in the event’s long history.

Etheridge, who overcame a terrifying neck injury to help lead Auburn to a national championship, was chosen as the 45th Unsung Hero and was recognized at a banquet on April 19 at the Jemison Municipal Complex.

All six local baseball teams make playoffs

2011 has turned out to be a banner year in Chilton County baseball. For the first time in at least 10 years—and probably much longer—all six county teams qualified for the state playoffs, which began on April 22.

A pair of teams ended extended playoff droughts: Jemison hasn’t competed in the postseason since 2006, and Verbena hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001. Jemison and another county team, Isabella, needed wins in their final area games to secure a playoff berth.

JHS archery team makes Nationals

In only its first year of existence, the Jemison High School archery team will compete on the National Archery in the Schools Program’s biggest stage.

The JHS archers—ranked in the top 5 in the state—qualified in the high school division for NASP Nationals on May 13-14 in Louisville, Ky., by posting their best score of the season at a state competition.