PREP BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: Local teams ready to hit the road for round 1

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Holly Pond, Cullman and West Point will be on the road Friday for the opening round of the AHSAA State Playoffs. (Martha Needham & Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With the regular season wrapping up, the playoffs are upon us once again and we have eight local squads preparing to hit the road for round one. Meek will travel to take one Lindsay Lane, Addison will head to Westbrook Christian, Holly Pond will play at Hokes Bluff, Hanceville will travel to face North Jackson, Fairview will head to Alexandria, West Point will play at John Carroll, Cullman will take a trip to Shades Valley and Arab will travel to Chelsea.

1A: Meek (13-11) at Lindsay Lane (20-5)

The Tigers have won five of their last six games coming into the final week of the regular season and they’ll need to stay hot to extend their season past Friday’s round one matchup at Lindsay Lane. The Lions have won five of their last six as well and have been dominant throughout the majority of the regular season. Lindsay Lane has been putting up big numbers this season so Meek’s arms will be tested, and the Tigers will have to get their bats going too if they want to keep pace with the Lions and move on to round two.

2A: Addison (12-9) at Westbrook Christian (12-13)

The Bulldogs have dropped a few tight games in the couple weeks leading up to the postseason, but they’ll be looking to turn that around when they arrive at Westbrook Christian in Rainbow City. The Warriors dominated their area opponents in the regular season but have lost three of their last four coming into this week and struggled to put runs on the board. If Addison can get the bats going early, the Bulldogs will have a shot to topple Westbrook and advance to the next round.

3A: Holly Pond (8-14) at Hokes Bluff (18-11)

The Broncos punched their ticket to the postseason with wins over Brindlee Mountain earlier this month and now they’re preparing to travel to Hokes Bluff for a battle with the Eagles. Hokes Bluff has been explosive offensively throughout the season, hammering its area opponents. Holly Pond got off to a slow start but began to turn things around toward the end of March and started collecting wins. Now, the Broncos are looking for two more wins at Hokes Bluff this week. If Holly Pond’s arms can keep the Eagles in check, the Broncos will have a solid chance to move on to round two.

4A: Hanceville (8-17) at North Jackson (14-14)

North Jackson got off to a slower start this season but defeated Madison County, New Hope and DAR to earn their area championship and hosting rights against Hanceville this week. The Bulldogs went through a rough patch in March but have rallied to win four of their last six games and punched their ticket to the postseason with wins over Good Hope earlier in April.

5A: Fairview (8-12) at Alexandria (19-13)

The Aggies will travel to Alexandria to take on the Bears Friday night and if they can get their bats hot again, they’ll have a good chance to advance. Fairview struggled to put runs on the board throughout the last couple weeks before exploding for 18 runs in its win over Holly Pond Friday night. Alexandria’s arms have kept opponents in check for most of the year so the Aggies’ arms will need to stand out as well to keep pace with the Bears.

5A: West Point (14-15) at John Carroll (10-16)

Fresh off of hosting this year’s Cullman County Tournament, the Warriors will turn their attention to their postseason matchup at John Carroll Friday. The Cavs dominated their area foes throughout the regular season to earn an area title and they’ve done it with an explosive offense. West Point is coming to town with some talented arms to face off against the bats of John Carroll, but the Warriors will have to find a way to score runs as well to top the Cavs and secure a place in the second round.

6A: Cullman (18-16) at Shades Valley (15-10)

For the first time in 11 seasons, the Bearcats were unable to win their area title in the regular season and will hit the road for the opening round of the state playoffs. The Mounties got off to a slow start earlier in the season but have won their last five games in dominant fashion. Shades Valley has put up 15+ runs in nine of its game this year and has shown it can be explosive offensively so Cullman’s arms will be tested. Pitching has not been the problem for the ‘Cats this season but they’ll have to find a way to push some runs across the plate to eliminate the Mounties and advance.

6A: Arab (18-13) at Chelsea (16-12)

Scottsboro edged Arab 1-0 in last week’s area championship game, but the Knights will have to put the tight loss behind them and refocus for a playoff series at Chelsea Friday night. The Hornets have won five of their last six games coming into the final week of the regular season, including a pair of wins over Briarwood Christian to secure an area title. Arab is coming into this series hot as well, having won four in a row before falling to Scottsboro 1-0. The Knights have pitched it well this season and if they can continue to shut down batters at Chelsea Friday, they’ll spend next week preparing for round two.

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