Maplesville’s 2012 playoff run helping this year

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

Being one of the last eight teams remaining in the Class 1A state playoffs is a remarkable accomplishment—an accomplishment that could be understandably overwhelming for a high school baseball team.

But the Maplesville Red Devils have been here before.

In fact, the Devils were one of four teams remaining in their classification last year, before falling at St. Luke’s.

MHS coach Brandon Shanks said last year’s experience is benefitting this year’s team.

“Last year by the time we made it to the third round and then to the semifinals, they’d never been there in baseball,” Shanks said. “You could tell. There were a lot of nerves. They were excited but kind of unsure.”

The 2013 version of the Devils looks much like the 2012 version because only two players were lost to graduation.

A year of maturity has also helped the team play with more consistency, which Shanks said has been the key to success.

“Everyone on the team has a role, and when those roles are filled, that’s when we win,” he said.

The consistency has been especially important at the plate, Shanks said.

“Throughout the season, we would have three or four who were hitting it well for one week, and then the next week it would be a different group hitting,” he said. “Now, we’ve been more consistent with all nine in the order.”

The MHS lineup has featured some younger contributors in the playoffs. Eighth graders Brady Gilliland, at second base, and Alex Smith, in the outfield, have played crucial roles.

“They’ve done a big job for us,” Shanks said.

Maplesville (17-12) will host Brantley (19-13) in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Game 2 of the series will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, and a third game, if necessary, would be played Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

The Devils are playing their first home playoff games of the year after traveling the first two rounds.

Shanks said he thinks the series will be determined by which team plays fundamentally sound.

“I’ve always preached that it comes down to the basic fundamentals, the small things that often get overlooked: making routine plays in the infield, using two hands on a fly ball in the outfield, hitting cut men, baserunning,” Shanks said. “It’s always the team that is physically and mentally prepared to play on that given day that is the one that advances.”