The Hartselle Tigers will play for their 9th State Championship following their series win over Chelsea last weekend. The last time Hartselle won a state Championship was in 2013, when the Tigers defeated Spanish Fort in two games.
The Tigers (29-14) will face the Faith Academy Rams (32-5) in a best 2-of-3 series in Montgomery this week.
Faith has been ranked No. 1 for most of the season and swept three out of the four series they played in this year’s playoffs. Their lone loss was 2-1 in Game 1 of their series with Helena in the second round.
Pitching will be the story of the series as both teams have strong pitching staffs. The Tigers have given up 17 runs in 10 games, 1.7 runs per game, while the Rams have given up a total of 13 runs in nine games, 1.4 runs per game.
This year’s championship series will be the 11th for the Tigers under longtime coach William Booth who began coaching the Tigers in 1988. He led the Hartselle to six state titles in 11 years, starting in 1990 through 2000. The Tigers’ seventh title came in 2009.
Game 1: Chelsea 2, Hartselle 1
Chelsea scored two unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning and held on for a victory in Game 1 of the 6A semifinals. JoJo Williamson had the Tigers’ only hit and RBI in the loss. JT Blackwood took the loss after giving up two runs on two hits while striking out seven. William Turner and Colby Widner combined for two shutout innings in relief.
Game 2: Hartselle 5, Chelsea 1
Elliott Bray continued his dominating postseason in the Tigers’ 5-1 victory. He allowed one run on six hits while striking out 11 in leading Hartselle to the Game 2 win. Peyton Steele was 2-for-4 with two runs scored to lead the offense. Williamson had a hit and two RBI. Cade Miles scored two runs while Eli Tidwell scored one. Eli Snelson and Brodie Morrow each had an RBI. Centerfielder Drew Cartee had the defensive play of the game when he gunned down a Chelsea runner at the plate who was attempting to score on a flyball.
Game 3: Hartselle 10, Chelsea 2
Chelsea jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the top of the first, but it was all Tigers after that. Hartselle took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the first and blew the game wide open with five runs in the third and fourth innings to push the lead to 8-2. Coleman Mizell finished 3-for-3 with a home run, four runs scored, and two RBI to lead the Tigers. Cartee was 2-for-4 with four RBI, while Morrow scored three runs and Snelson added two more. Caleb Pittman picked up the win after allowing two runs on three hits in four innings. Widener earned the save with three scoreless innings of work.