The squad transformed from a four-win team to one that went 12-11 and missed the state playoffs by only a game.
“We were trying to put together a team to be successful, and that kind of blossomed this past season,” said Ohatchee coach Kevin Elwell, who is The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 1A-2A coach of the year.
“Everything kind of came together at once. Making the postseason was kind of above and beyond what we were thinking. We had a bunch that was improving in a baseball aspect, but I’m not sure I could have predicted the record we had before the season.”
The ball got rolling March 14.
It was a night of many firsts, as Ohatchee defeated 2A, Area 12 opponent Ranburne in not only the Indians’ first home game, but also the program’s first home game at night.
The Ohatchee win also gave area champion Ranburne its first area loss for the season.
“Everybody knew they had a great program and have won two state titles in the last 12 years. When they came to our place early in the season we played well and played toe-to-toe with them,” Elwell said. “But when we scored six in the sixth to beat them, that was kind of the date that we all circled saying we had made it.”
The Indians cruised the first half of the season, with its eight seniors, including catcher Jonathan Poole, outfielder Hunter Longeria and second baseman Rob Broadwell, leading the way.
However, midway through the year, Ohatchee hit a rough patch.
The decline pushed Ohatchee into a must-win situation against Pleasant Valley the last week of the regular season. The Raiders defeated Ohatchee both games, ending Ohatchee’s hopes of making the postseason.
“We played so well in the first half of the year and as a coach I thought we’d continue to improve as we went along, and we did, but some of the breaks we got at the beginning of the year we stopped getting,” Elwell said. “That’s how baseball is, though. It’s a game of streaks.”
However, after the deciding games left Ohatchee out of the playoffs, the Indians were able to defeat Saks the following week to finish the season with a winning record. Ohatchee dropped the first game of the doubleheader, but rebounded from behind, winning on a game-ending single by Longeria.
“After the midpoint in the season, considering the record and area record we had, I would have hoped we ended better than we did,” Elwell said.
“But, all things considering, when you look back at the whole year from where we came from we had to be happy with how things went.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star