PREP BASEBALL: A look back at an exciting 2021 season

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West Point’s Branson Smith (left) and Cullman’s Brennen Norton (right) helped lead their respective teams to the postseason in 2021. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. — Another high school baseball season has come to a close and several local teams had some big seasons. We saw a handful of local squads play their way into the postseason and others still working to take that next step but after the way last year’s spring sports season was cut short, it was great to get back out on the diamond and continue playing.

Addison (7-19)

Addison looked to have a big season in 2021 behind a veteran roster, but they didn’t have much success at all. The Bulldogs went through multiple losing streaks during the season, but they did finish the year strong, going 4-4 in their last eight games, including a 10-1 win over Good Hope. Addison finished 7-19 on the season and they ended up third in Class 2A, Area 13 with a 3-6 record.

 Derrick Alexander, Jesse Brock, Cannon Hiller, Nelson Martin, Ty Tuggle and Bailey Wilson are graduating this spring but the Bulldogs will still have a lot of key players returning in 2022 with hopes of getting to the postseason.

Cold Springs (11-11) (Area Runner-up, lost to Westbrook in second round of postseason)

Cold Springs looked to make some big noise in 2021 and they did just that as they had winning streaks of four and six during the season. The Eagles finished as the runner-up in Class 2A, Area 13 behind Falkville as they finished with a 4-3 region record. They faced off against North Sand Mountain in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Each team split the first two games and Cold Springs rolled past the Bison, 12-3, to move on to the second round. But the Eagles’ season came to an end at the hands of Westbrook Christian as they dropped both games to the Warriors, 6-1 and 8-3, as they finished with an 11-11 record. 

Ayden Alexander, Roberto Ayala, Andrew Weaver and Brodi Williams have graduated from Cold Springs and the Eagles will bring back a lot of young talent as they look to make a return to the postseason in 2022.

Cullman (28-13) (Area Champions, lost to Chelsea in second round of postseason)

After winning a title in 2019, Cullman looked to add some more hardware in 2021. The Bearcats started out the campaign 7-3, and ended the regular season going 17-11. Cullman rolled past Hartselle to take home the Class 6A, Area 14 championship and they faced off against Hazel Green in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Bearcats split the first two games against the Trojans, but then rolled past them in Game Three, 13-7, to move on to the second round, where they traveled to take on Chelsea. 

Just like in their first-round match-up against Hazel Green, Cullman split their first two games against Chelsea, but they were unable to keep their season alive this time as they lost game three, 7-2, to end the season with a 28-13 record. The Bearcats will lose more than a handful of players to graduation, including Brennen Norton, Max Dueland, Weston Horton and Matt Brock, but will look to do what they do best next year; get back into the postseason and add some more titles in 2022.

Fairview (14-18) (Area Runner-up, lost to Madison Academy in first round of postseason)

Fairview brought back a lot of great young talent in hopes of making a deep playoff run in 2021, but they started out the season going 2-7. The Aggies then went 7-1 in their next eight games as they got their season quickly turned around. Fairview finished second in Class 5A, Area 14 to Guntersville and took on Madison Academy in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Mustangs rolled past the Aggies in both games 11-0 and 14-1 and Fairview finished the year with a record of 14-18.

Preston Ryan, Levi Garner, Tanner Bennet, Justin Hostetler, Joey Simmons, Alex Velasquez and Jack Brown have graduated from Fairview, and will look to make a deep postseason run in 2022 behind a talented young squad.

Good Hope (11-17) (Area Runner-up, lost to Cherokee County in first round of postseason)

After losing some great talent in 2019, Good Hope looked to have a big season in 2021 behind a veteran squad. The Raiders started the season 4-4, then they went 3-1 in their next four games. But they couldn’t quite keep it going after that as they went 4-10 after that to close out the season. Good Hope finished second in Class 4A, Area 11 to Curry and took on Cherokee County in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. They ended up getting swept by the Warriors, 7-5 and 12-0, and they finished the season 11-17.

Caleb Rusk, Travis Brock, Lawton Farr and Lane Speegle have graduated from Good Hope and the Raiders will bring back some great young talent in hopes of making it back to the postseason in 2022.

Hanceville (7-19)

Hanceville looked to make 2021 their year as they looked for a big season, but it wasn’t meant to be as they finished the season 7-19. The Bulldogs did collect wins over Holly Pond, Good Hope, and Cleveland.

Izayah Glenon, Barrett Hardin, Bo Joles and Karsen Wilbanks have graduated from Hanceville and the Bulldogs will look to some young up-and-coming players in hopes of a turnaround season in 2022.

Holly Pond (8-14)

Holly Pond brought back a lot of key players in 2021 as they looked to make a run into the playoffs this spring, but the Broncos got off to a slow start, losing 11 of their first 12 games. The end of the regular season was a different story for Holly Pond. The Broncos went 7-3 in their final 10 games, including an 8-5 win over Whitesburg Christian Academy.

Holly Pond finished with a record of 8-14 and will lose six players to graduation Charlie Huddleston, Lane Tipton, Zachary White, Thomas Bell, Jacob Holderfield and Landan Taylor. The Broncos will still have some key players coming back in 2022 as they look to get into the postseason.

Meek (0-21) (lost to Donoho in first round of postseason)

Meek looked to get into the postseason and make some noise in 2021 and landing in a two-team area with just them and Sumiton Christian in Class 1A, Area 11 meant the Tigers were locked in for a playoff spot. The Tigers looked to shake off a bad regular season in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs against Donoho but were swept by the Falcons, 18-3 and 18-1, to finish with a record of 0-21.

Daniel Patton, Everett Pounds, Nick Perez, Dalton Guthrie and Kendrick Smith have graduated from Meek and the Tigers will look to get huge contributions from a young roster in 2022.

Vinemont (10-10) (Area Runner-up, lost to J.B. Pennington in first round of postseason)

Vinemont brought back a lot of key players as they looked to make a deep postseason run in 2021. Deacon Samples pitched a no-hitter against West Morgan early in the season as that improved the Eagles’ record to 2-1. They went on a five-game winning streak to push their record to 7-3, but then dropped five of their last seven regular season games. Vinemont finished as the Class 3A, Area 15 runner-up and took on J.B. Pennington in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. The Eagles split the first two games of the series against the Tigers and looked to move on to the next round, but Vinemont fell just short in game three, 6-5, as they finished the season 10-10.

The Eagles saw Will Rhodes, Austin Riddle and Collin Teichmiller graduate over the weekend and will have a lot of key pieces back in 2022 as they look to make an even deeper run in the postseason.

West Point Warriors (20-19) (Area Runner-up, lost to Sardis in first round of postseason)

West Point’s veteran squad looked to make a run to the championship in 2021. The Warriors dropped six of their first seven games to start out the season, but a seven-game winning streak quickly got them back on track. West Point finished the regular season going 4-3 in their final seven games, and finished as the runner-up in Class 5A, Area 15. The Warriors took on Sardis in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs and lost the first game, 6-2, but they took game two, 4-2, to even the series at 1-1. But a late run by the Lions proved to be the deciding factor as West Point dropped the third game to Sardis, 2-1, and finished the regular season with a record of 20-19.

Aubry Cleghorn, Will Cochran, Jacob Dye, Chase Sibley, Branson Smith, Carter Thornton and Isaiah Wylie graduated from West Point over the weekend and the Warriors will look to fill some huge shoes in 2022 as they will look to get some big contributions from some key returning players.

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