By D. Mark Mitchell
The AHSAA is wrapping up winter sports, hosting the “Final 56” state basketball state tournament at the BJCC in Birmingham this week.
(The phrase, “Final 4”, which all of us refer to, can’t be used due to legal rights.)
Opelika has moved to spring sports — well, winter/spring sports. Spring sports start in February and conclude in May. Much of the time, at least for the first six weeks or so, teams have to practice, and sometimes play, in the brutal cold. That is the case this year.
Soccer, baseball, softball, tennis and golf teams have postponed or cancelled games due to the cold weather. These sports practice and play in the cold every year. This year, teams are having to deal with colder temperatures and brisk winds that make it difficult and dangerous to be outside for an extended time.
The coaches and administrators at Opelika Middle and High School put the well being of our student-athletes first. This is the right way to do it; we have plenty of time to make up the games postponed. I think all of us would rather watch sports when it is comfortable outside than have to bundle up and find gas heaters to keep us warm.
The OHS baseball team split a pair of games last weekend in Prattville. The Dawgs lost the opener 11-10 to Tuscaloosa County. It was a tough day for our guys. Opelika allowed eight unearned runs after several miscues on defense. The team battled back to tie the game in the seventh after Blake Yountz hit a three-run home run before losing by one run in the 11th inning.
Opelika rested for 30 minutes before playing Prattville in the night cap.The Dawgs then defeated the Lions 5-2. Pat Norrell earned the win on the mound, starting his first varsity game as a pitcher. He struck out 12 while pitching a complete game.
The team is off to a 3 – 1 start to the season. Coach Billy Jones was forced to cancel the home opener last Friday due to the brutal cold weather.
The team is participating in the East Alabama Classic today and tomorrow. This is a baseball tournament hosted by Auburn, Central, Smiths Station and Opelika. AHS assistant baseball coach, Tommy Carter, started this one three years ago.
The tournament allows 10 to 12 teams from across the state to play baseball in east Alabama over a three-day period.
The top baseball teams across Alabama travel to this area to play at Opelika, Auburn, Smiths Station and Central. This year’s Classic teams are
Hoover, McGill-Toolen, Beauregard, Robertsdale, American Christian, Mary Montgomery, Davidson and Satsuma.
Opelika will host Satsuma today at 2 pm and Davidson at 4:30.
Saturday, the Dawgs will host Fairhope at 10 am and Hoover at 5:30.
These games will be played at Bulldog Park.
OHS Coach Billy Jones coordinated the tournament this year. The head coaches from Central, Smiths Station, Auburn and Opelika should be applauded for working together.
Fans sometimes forget these coaches are friends and work together. This is healthy for all including our student-athletics.
Good job, coaches!
The Opelika High girls and boys tennis teams each won two matches this week including a section win.
OHS vs Smiths Station
The girls and boys tennis teams defeated Smiths Station, with the girls winning a close match, 5-4.
Singles winners were Emma Grace Scullen, Emma Levins and Taylor Watson.
Doubles winners were Sam Herring/ Emma Grace Scullen and Cameron Walker/ Emma Levins.
The boys won, 9-0.
Singles winners were Ross Herring, Conner Pruitt, Wilson Hudson, Andrew Goss, Jack Slay and Austin Crowley.
Doubles winners were Kevin Lazenby/ Winston Smith T; Andrew Bizilia/ Scot Carpenter and Ross Herring/ Yash Desai
OHS vs Ben Russell
The OHS boys and girls swept Benjamin Russell in their first section match.
Girls singles winners were Sam Herring, Emma Levins, Sara Hollis Smith T and Taylor Watson.
Girls doubles winners were Sam Herring/ Emma Grace Scullen andTaylor Watson/ Sara Hollis Smith T.
Boys singles winners were Kevin Lazenby, Winston Smith T, Andrew Bizilia, Scot Carpenter, Ross Herring and Conner Pruitt.
Doubles winners were Kevin Lazenby/ Winston Smith T; Scot Carpenter/ Andrew Bizilia and Yash Desia/ Ross Herring.
Adam Massey coaches both teams and continues to put quality teams on the court.
Coach Buster Daniel, OHS golf coach, is holding the annual Opelika Bulldog Scramble golf tournament March 4 at Auburn Links.
You (anyone) can play in the tournament for $125 or $400 per team.
Hole sponsors are available as well.
If you are interested in playing or sponsoring a hole, call Buster Daniel at 334-745-9715. Proceeds help defray the expenses of players.
On the Mark on the radio
You can keep up with Opelika athletics by tuning into “ON THE MARK” weekdays from 7-9 am on WTLM 1520AM.
Jeff Sasser and I co-host the two hour local sports show.
Weekly guest hosts include Dan Washburn, former head of AHSAA; Joe Wilson, former Opelika head football coach and AD and Larry Gore, former Opelika head football coach and AD.
Guests include coaches from local high schools including OHS.
You can follow me on twitter @voiceofthedawgs.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.