Prep baseball: Randolph County enjoys first playoff run since 2005
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
May 06, 2013 | 4447 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Randolph County’s Levi Phillips scores against Saks earlier this year. (Photo by Bill Wilson/Anniston Star/file)
Randolph County’s Levi Phillips scores against Saks earlier this year. (Photo by Bill Wilson/Anniston Star/file)
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By Brandon Miller

bmiller@annistonstar.com

WEDOWEE — Randolph County entered the Class 2A baseball playoffs ranked second in the state.

And yet, it immediately lost the first game of a best-of-three opening series. It happened for a number of reasons, but one might’ve been nerves.

“We got beat 7-2 the first game,” Randolph County coach Pat Prestridge said. “Then we had a passed ball in the second game that put us ahead 6-5. In the last game, we settled down and played our game after we got a feel for it.”

Maybe settling down took two games because the Tigers were in the state playoffs for the first time since this year’s seniors were in fourth grade. Since 2005, Randolph County has been known as a football and basketball school, but Prestridge said he thinks Randolph County may have “turned a corner” and included baseball to the list.

“I guess the biggest thing is leadership and attitude,” Prestridge said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it is fun to come out here with the right attitudes. The work ethic has also been great and picked up throughout the season.”

This season’s team has pulled together in every aspect of the game while starting four seniors. Senior Brad Benefield said the players has formed a great bond after compiling a 9-12 record last year.

“Everybody is playing together,” Benefield said. “We have a lot of young guys, but the seniors have been together for 10 years.”

After the Tigers (27-6) got past Fultondale in the first round of the playoffs with a12-9 win in Game 3, it hasn’t played a third game since. Randolph County defeated Horseshoe Bend 11-4 and 14-5 in the second round and Sheffield 8-6 and 6-5 last weekend.

“We knew we could make the playoffs, but to be in the fourth round, we didn’t expect that,” senior Lance Daniel said. “It’s wonderful. Our class hasn’t made the playoffs in much of anything — once in football and once in basketball, now baseball. It’s just a great way to finish our senior seasons.”

And with the sweep last weekend, while other teams across the state are scrambling around and jumping through hoops to find a rain-free day to play Game 3, the Tigers have been relaxing all weekend and were back to practice Monday.

“It’s great to get rest,” Daniel said. “You don’t have to worry about playing another game and your legs can get under you and you don’t have to worry about pitchers at all.”

And while Randolph County focuses on itself, Westbrook Christian and Ranburne will resume Game 2 on Tuesday at 5 p.m. with Westbrook Christian leading 5-0 in the fourth inning. Ranburne won the first game. The third game, if necessary, follows the second. The winner will play the Tigers.

“We’ve always played Ranburne,” Prestridge said. “Ranburne has always been a baseball school, and the first time I played them in baseball was when I was at Oakman in 1999. They have a lot of kids that love baseball just like we do and we always play in football and basketball and normally in baseball except for this year. The only reason we didn’t was because we thought we may meet down the road somewhere. Time will tell.”

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.
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