Local teams prepare for next season in Peach Classic Tourney

Chilton County High School’s baseball team is holding its annual Peach Classic baseball tournament at Jack Hayes Park through Saturday.

The tournament brought in some of the top teams from around the state, including Wetumpka, Prattville and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, along with strong local teams in Jemison and Thorsby.

CCHS is the host of the tournament, and coach Josey Shannon said while the tournament could be extra work, it helped the team a great deal in the long run.

“We have seven dates during the summer that we can play as an organized team,” he said. “And we’d rather play at home. It makes for a little more work on us, but it completes our playing dates.”

Shannon also said it helps his team prepare for the upcoming season.

“It’s also a fundraiser for us,” he said. “We make a little off the gate fees, and we sell ribs. It’s a good kickstarter for the next season.”

He also said the tournament wasn’t so much about winning games as it was seeing what kind of depth his team has, and who might step up into leadership roles.

“Every game, we want to win in the back of our heads, but it’s a great time to evaluate our new guys,” he said. “It’s a time for some of the junior varsity guys to show me what they’re made of. It’s an evaluation period.”

Jemison coach Jason Easterling shared the same viewpoint.

“It just gives me a chance to look at the kids that are coming up,” he said.

Easterling said he felt the tournament could be a good chemistry builder for the Panthers, who return the majority of the playoff team from this past season.

“It gets some kids some experience, and [shows me] what’s going to work next year,” he said. “I only lost three kids, but there’s a little bit more competitiveness between the kids than I expected.”

Thorsby coach Ab Argent is hoping the tournament can help him replace some key pieces of his infield.

“We’re only going to have three seniors next year,” he said. “We’re looking at pitchers, but at second and third base the closest [for replacements].”

Argent said he felt like that playing against the bigger schools would help his team gain experience.

“We look at it as a chance to get better,” he said. “A chance to put kids in game situations and see what they can do in some different positions. The way to get better is to play games.”

Admission is $5 a day, and Ribs-To-Go is handling concessions. Games begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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