BY NOAH GRIFFITH
FOR THE OBSERVER
SMITHS STATION —
Glenwood baseball (17-2) is the only AISA team ranked in ITG Next’s Alabama High School Baseball Rankings, just one parcel of proof that this team is loaded with talent.
Coming in at No. 25 across all classes in the state rankings, Glenwood hasn’t even been able to utilize all of its star power yet.
“We’re still a work in progress to be honest,” said head coach Tim Fanning. “We’ve had some guys down with˙some arm injuries, you know. We’ve kind of been trying to find our way from a pitching standpoint, like getting a rotation together, but we’re scoring a lot of runs. We’ve just had to plug and play a little bit off the bench, and I think it’s made us deeper and stronger.”
Among those with lingering, “non-serious” arm issues are shortstop Hunter Milam, who hasn’t played in a week, and his replacement, junior Brandon McCraine. McCraine hasn’t pitched since joining the team after winning state in basketball, but filling in in the outfield and now at shortstop, his bat is a “game changer” in the Glenwood batting order.
While a few of those guys aren’t able to contribute on the mound yet, seniors Jacob Page and Jackson Kennon have given the team lots of quality innings.
In a series sweep of rival Lee-Scott to start region play earlier this week, Page and Kennon both earned complete-game wins, while Mason McCraine combined with Trent House and Wyatt Tharpe to get the win in game two.
Each of those games had something in common: Glenwood started out either behind or tied in each game. In Monday’s game one at Lee-Scott, Page gave up a three-run bomb in the first inning before finding his stride. He stayed on for six more shutout innings in a 9-3 win.
On Tuesday, Glenwood found itself down 6-0 in the third inning of game two. Then, the Gators scored 16 unanswered runs, and Kennon stayed on the mound through it all for the complete-game, five-inning victory. At the helm of that 16-run explosion was a solo dinger from Page, once again making his presence felt.
“It feels great (to sweep Lee-Scott). It feels awesome, really,” Page said with a chuckle. “We just battled. We kept our heads up through it. You know, those first three innings (in game two on Tuesday) we made a bunch of errors and stuff, but we kept the energy and stayed strong.”
Glenwood put up 34 runs in three games against the Warriors, and with three games in two days, the Gators displayed their depth and explosiveness. The pitching turned in two complete games; the bats got hot; and the defense, despite a few errors in game three of the series, made several tough plays — including a sliding grab by left fielder Lukas Holman in game three to save an extra-base hit.
As Glenwood continues to get healthy and solidify its pitching rotation, a dominant team feels like it will only go up from here with plenty of depth to fall back on.
“Well, even tonight, we had a big pinch-hit double from Eli Bankston, and Mason (McCraine), he hadn’t been starting and he wasn’t hitting, but in this three-game series, I think he had six or seven hits. That was big for us,” Fanning said. “I still don’t think we’re there yet. We got some work to do.”