The school officially lit up its new lights against Class 2A, Area 12 opponent Ranburne, culminating a drive that lasted years to raise money for field lights. It marked a big moment for the community and the baseball team.
“They wanted that special feeling to play under lights. It’s a big source of pride already,” said Elwell, a former Jacksonville State pitcher.
That special feeling created a live atmosphere. What a game it was for Ohatchee fans. In front a crowd of three to four times as many people as the Indians have seen this season, Ohatchee won 6-2.
“We didn’t disappoint and neither did the community,” he said.
It was a pitchers’ duel until a two-run bomb gave Ranburne the lead in the sixth.
Then, under the lights, with that special feeling and all, Ohatchee scored all six of its runs.
“It was kind of fitting that we won with the new lights and all that,” Ohatchee athletics director Nathan Wehunt said.
Although the win came in a new atmosphere, earning a victory was nothing new for Indians, who are ranked No. 5 in 2A.
Ohatchee has put together winning ways time and time again this season.
Backed by the experience provided by eight seniors, the Indians are 3-0 in Area 12.
“Looking at it as the coach last year, I’m not sure I necessarily saw this coming,” Elwell said. “I knew we’d have a big class senior-wise, but I wasn’t 100 percent convinced we’d come out and play as well as we have. There’s been a lot of maturing and a lot of hard work to get us to where we are. But you know how baseball is it can turn on you in a hurry.”
Added Elwell: “Just because we’ve been putting the ball in play and hitting it hard doesn’t mean the second half can’t flip the other way. It’s time to put work in and make sure we’re as most prepared as possible.”
• PREP STARS: Donoho volleyball standout Corey Phillis and Weaver basketball star Chris English are among the best at their sport in Alabama.
The duo was selected recently to participate in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s North-South All-Star Sports Week, scheduled for July 15-20.
“It’s a great experience for them,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “They treat you real special, and it’s a great time to play in front of a lot of coaches. You can get the exposure you’d like to. We’re going to take a lot of our guys down there to watch him.
“Everything is positive about it.”
English recently was selected as a Class 3A second-team all-state selection after having the third highest point total of any classification in Alabama last season.
Phillis played a vital role in Donoho’s state championship run last fall, its second title in two years. She was named the MVP of the Class 1A tournament.
“Corey all year made a name for herself on the court,” Donoho coach Janice Slay said. “She’s made some huge leaps in refining her playing skills from the year before. She set some personal goals, and I don’t know all of those goals, but they were for her to improve and be recognized, not just for herself and her team.”
• NO SLOWING DOWN: There’s a small window in which football slows down, but that’s not the case for players with the opportunity to play collegiately.
For Jacksonville running back Dominique Thomas the letters have started coming in. Getting mail from Southern Mississippi, Middle Tennessee State and Alabama last week, the soon-to-be senior has his hands full.
“At this time a year, everybody gets questionnaires and coaches come around to talk to next year’s seniors,” Golden Eagles coach Clint Smith said. “He’s kind of talking to some people and starting to get some letters in the mail. The process has just kind of begun.”
Although things are just in the early stages of the process, this is still the process that turns a high school player into a college player.
“It starts out kind of broad, but once you send in the film and they like the film and show some interest, then they’ll take it to the next level,” Smith said. “A lot of times these kids will get invited to team camps and get to meet these coaches. It’s really just a good way to get the recruiting process to start.”
Thomas said he plans to attend a camp at Clemson and another one in Hoover during the summer.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star