By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika High School baseball team (22-13) defeated Northridge in a best-of-three series last weekend to advance to the second round of the 6A AHSAA state baseball playoffs.
Opelika will host the Helena Huskies (20-12) in a doubleheader Friday night at Bulldog Park. The two teams will play a best-of-three series. Two games will be played Friday night and the tiebreaker game (if necessary) is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.
Helena eliminated the Bulldogs a year ago in the second round of the playoffs while on their way to winning the 6A state championship. The Huskies graduated several players that continue to play in college.
Opelika split the doubleheader against Northridge last Friday night, winning 2-1 and losing 2-1.
Jackson Reynolds continues to dominate opposing teams on the mound. The Texas A&M commit pitched a complete game to earn a win. Reynolds allowed four hits, walked one, struck out 10 and allowed no earned runs.
TeKeal DeMunn and Andrew Parr singled, helping the Bulldogs score the two runs.
Game two was another pitching duel. Micah Christian allowed two earned runs through six innings, struck out seven and gave up four hits to take the loss. Opelika had four hits: two from Jared Bartlett and one each from eighth grader Brooks Bryan and Kory McCoy. The Jaguars scored two in the first inning to win 2-1.
The two teams returned to Bulldog Park Saturday for the tie-breaking match-up and a chance to move on in the playoffs. Opelika defeated Northridge 4-1 behind Parr’s complete game on the mound. Parr allowed one earned run, five hits and struck out two over seven innings. Christian led the Bulldogs at the plate with two hits, and T.J. Jones added a single. Bartlett scored two runs along with Jackson Craft and Latrel Gullate scoring one run each.
Helena swept Chilton County in two games last Friday night, 2-0 and 5-1, to advance.
BASEBALL ON RADIO
Fans can listen to Opelika Baseball on the radio and internet. The games will air on WZMG 910 AM, online at Hallelujah 910am.com/ListenLive or search “WZMG 910” on the iHeart Radio App. Jeff Sasser will provide color and I will handle the play-by-play duties. Listen to Friday’s game beginning at 4:50 p.m. and if necessary, Saturday at 12:50 p.m.
OPELIKA TENNIS SEASON ENDS
The OHS girls and boys tennis teams came up short and did not qualify for the state tournament. Three Opelika girls placed runner-up: #1 Sara Hollis Smith T, #3 Martlynn Grouby and #4 Raeden Gagliano.
Eight seniors are graduating from the OHS tennis program: Conner Pruitt, Wilson Hudson, Grayson Crowley, Austin Crowley, Sara Hollis Smith T, Mary Bentley Barfield, Martlynn Grouby and Blake Bell.
Coach Adam Massey talked about the seniors and what their departure means to them.
“These eight student-athletes will be missed. I will miss seeing each perform and enjoyed watching them grow up and compete with class for Opelika and their families. I wish each the best,” Massey said.
The OHS girls and boys soccer teams finished up the regular season with a trip to Smiths Station. The girls lost 6-2 and the boys won 2-1.
The Smiths Station girls scored four goals in the second half to break open what was a close game. Amiya Brown netted both goals for the Lady Bulldogs.
The varsity boys beat Smiths Station 2-1. With three minutes remaining in the game, the Panthers led 1-0. The Bulldogs scored two goals in the final three minutes to win. Marshall Meyers netted a beautiful upper 90-foot shot to tie the game. Tykell Jones scored the winning goal on an assist from Jefhet Marion.
The OHS Lady Bulldog soccer team, 9-6-1, will host Northridge this Thursday at the W. James Samford Soccer Complex, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. The girls won the area for the third-straight season to earn a home match. The winner advances to the second round while the loser goes home.
The OHS boys will travel to Tuscaloosa Friday for a match with Northridge. The Bulldogs finished second behind Benjamin Russell High School, forcing them to travel in the first round.
Opelika school and city leaders gathered Saturday morning for the official opening of the newly renovated track on the OHS Campus. The track was completed last spring, but repairs to its timing system took longer than expected because of glitches in the software. Opelika City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors, Mayor Gary Fuller, school board and city council members and other community leaders gathered for the ribbon cutting prior to the Mike Spain Invitational.
There were no results at press time.
Ken Burton, OCS assistant superintendent, said he was proud to see the track in use.
“It thrills me to see our kids perform on our track. We owe it to our student athletes to have the best … that’s Opelika,” Burton said.
The Opelika Parks and Recreation Department, along with Opelika Middle School, also uses the track.
SPRING FOOTBALL COMING
OHS Coach Erik Speakman’s first spring practice as head coach will be May 7. Speakman and staff will practice for nine days before playing a spring game in Troy May 19 against Niceville High School of Florida. Be sure to check next week’s column for more information on the start of the Bulldogs’ spring practice.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys state director and vice-president of the A-O Sports Council. He can be followed on Twitter at VOICEOFTHEDAWGS.