By D. Mark Mitchell
The OHS girls and boys soccer teams won the Region Championship for the first time in school history. Girls head coach, Kory Skinner led the Lady Bulldogs to their first Region championship and first home playoff match. They will host Oxford at the W. James Samford Soccer Complex at the Sportsplex, Saturday at 2p.m.
Boys head coach Derek Hovell guided his team to their first Region championship and a home playoff match. The guys will host Benjamin Russell at the W. James Samford Complex at the Sportsplex today at 5p.m.
This is a huge accomplishment for the soccer program. The two teams have worked hard over the years to improve and compete against the state’s best soccer teams.
The two teams ended the regular season with wins over Park Crossing at the Sportsplex. The girls won 2-1 while the boys won 2-0.
I encourage Bulldog fans to support these two teams today and tomorrow as they play in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs.
Congratulations to both teams and good luck!
TENNIS TEAMS COMPETE FOR STATE TITLES
The Opelika High girls and boys tennis teams are in Mobile playing in the AHSAA Tennis State Championship tournament. Coach Adam Massey’s teams both qualified for the tournament. The two teams have a good chance at bringing home a Red (second place) or Blue (first place) trophy.
The boys team has more experienced players than most other teams. The Bulldogs swept through the Section and are playing great tennis at the right time.
Coach Massey said the draw is most important. Individuals are seeded but draw the opponent out of a “hat”. This means the two best players (#1 seed) could play each other in the very first match. One would think the players would be seeded according to state ranking.
However, the rules are in place and we must make the best of the situation.
Congratulations to both the girls and boys tennis teams!
BASEBALL ADVANCES TO SECOND ROUND OF PLAYOFFS
Opelika High baseball team defeated Northview two out of three games last weekend to advance to the second round of the AHSAA playoffs.
The first game was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. but was pushed back over an hour due to rain. The game was delayed several more times to allow the “field crew” (junior varsity players and other coaches in the athletic department including Brian Blackmon) to spread Diamond Dry and sand in the dirt part of the infield where water gathered. The game continued after each stoppage.
The Dawgs finally won game one, 5-1 behind a strong pitching performance by Gage Young. The senior, 7-1 for the season, carried a no-hitter into the seventh. The Cougars managed a single in the top of the 7th but it was too little, too late.
After the completion of game one, Coach Jones, Northview head coach, Opelika administrators and the umpires gathered in the middle of the field to discuss game 2. The umpires decided to give OHS thirty minutes to work on the field and then make a decision, which was to play the game.
It started later than expected. Ironically, most of the crowd stayed until the end of the game which was 12:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
Field conditions were better but a heavy fog blanketed Bulldog Park making it difficult to see the outfield fence from the press box.
Northview threw their best pitcher while we countered with one of our best, Matthew Christian. The two gave the fans a pitching exhibition. The game was scoreless after 8 innings. The Cougars managed to get a runner on second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Northview hit a high fly ball to left field. The players thought the pop fly was in foul territory in left field. But the runner at second broke on contact, while the OHS fielders were looking up in the thick fog trying to find the ball. It landed quietly three yards in fair territory which allowed the game winning run to score, a tough way to lose but part of the game.
The two teams played Saturday at 2 p.m. for the right to advance to the second round. Senior Bennett Whitman started the game on the mound for the Bulldogs. Whitman battled arm pain the second half of the season but told Coach Jones he was ready to pitch. After allowing 2 runs in the first inning, Whitman settled down and pitched 5 strong innings, allowing 4 hits. Harrison Morris relieved and pitched the final two innings.
The Bulldogs chipped away at the two run deficit. Gage Young scored the first run after a error and Bryant Norrell knocked in the tying run with two outs in the fifth.
The Dawgs scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Blake Yountz singled scored Chris Manley and Kent Bugg knocked in Yountz on a single to give OHS a 4-2 lead heading to the last inning. Morris retired Northview in order, securing the win and a trip to the second round of the AHSAA baseball playoffs against Dothan.
OPELIKA vs DOTHAN
Opelika will travel to Dothan today for a three-game series after the Tigers beat Valley Monday to win the series. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this year.
The Bulldogs, 27-10, are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 6 years.
Dothan won their Area and will be a tough test for Dawgs. Today’s first game starts at 4p.m. with game two at 6:30. Game three, if necessary will start at noon Saturday.
LISTEN TO THE OHS BASEBALL GAME ON RADIO/INTERNET
Opelika fans can listen to the Opelika/Dothan series on WZMG 910 AM or online at kickerfm.com or iheartradio.com/wzmg. Airtime is 3:50 with the first pitch at 4. The entire series will be on the radio and internet.
I will broadcast every game this weekend, live in Dothan.
The OHS softball team tied with Benjamin Russell for second place in the Area. The Lady Bulldogs won the coin toss to determined second place.
Opelika will play BRHS in the first round of the Area tournament in Valley next Friday.
The final two teams advance to the AHSAA softball state playoffs.
The Lady Bulldogs played Auburn High Wednesday night at Jane B. Moore field on the AU campus. The results were not available at press time.
OHS Head Football Coach Brian Blackmon will start his seventh spring as head football coach. Blackmon will be without two coaches, Bryan Moore who took the head job at Eufaula and Brandon Johnson who followed Moore.
The Bulldogs will start spring without a proven quarterback. Three-year starter Matthew Christian is about to graduate. Juniors John David Worth and Jake Bentley will battle for the job.
Three defensive linemen and two linebackers must be replaced due to graduation. The offense lost center Drew Kyser, three-year starter, but returns a talented group led by Kyle Fourtanbary, James Moss and running
back Josh Johnson.
Winston Smith T, all-state punter, and Chazden Blackmon, place kicker must be replaced. Jack Slay should handle the kicking duties.
The Dawgs will host Park Crossing May 15 in a spring game at Bulldog Stadium.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media and Alabama Dixie Boys State director.