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Booth knows Bearcats will be tough test

By Staff
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
There will be no guessing. No wondering who can hit and who cannot.
Cullman batters know Hartselle's pitchers, and Hartselle batters know Cullman's pitchers.
There will be no doubt in either team's minds what the other has. No doubt bad blood will boil.
The Hartselle-Cullman rivalry will be renewed in the semi-finals of the Class 5A Alabama State Playoffs. The two teams have played three times in the 2003 season – Cullman, who is the defending Class 5A state champs, has won two of those meetings.
Talking with Hartselle head coach William Booth, one might get the sense the Tigers have their work cut out for them.
"You know how Cullman is," he said. "I mean, we were runner up to them in the area. We can't enjoy (the Mortimer Jordan win) at all, because we have to get ready for Cullman."
Hartselle will travel to the home of the Bearcats. Another factor in Booth's worry.
"We have to go down to their place and play," Booth said, who is looking for his seventh career state title. "If we were playing here, it would be a little more even. Going down there, they will have a definite advantage. They have a lot of rowdy fans and a lot of support right now. I feel that Cullman has more support than anybody in the state."
But Cullman may want to worry itself.
Hartselle has been one of the hottest teams in the state in the past couple of months. With expectations high at the beginning of the season, the Tigers got off to a rough start.
At one point, Hartselle was 11-14 and, in hindsight, was at rock bottom. Since that point, the Tigers have surged, winning 18 of its last 23 games. Hartselle's overall record is 29-19.
"We have to put the whole package together to beat Hartselle," Cullman coach Bryan Bowen said. "If we let down in one area, either pitching, hitting or defense, they can beat us."
Cullman boasts a record of 37-11 and won the Area Championship. That means very little to Bowen.
"I think us and them were playing as good as anybody in the state late in the season," Bowen said. "Coach Booth and his staff work so hard, and winning this weekend won't be so cut and dry."
Bowen said he was not sure who would start Friday's first game, which begins at 4 p.m. Though he did say Whit Ford, Michael Rutledge and Brandon Lee will do most of the pitching.
Hartselle will counter with Joey Watson, Tyler Eddy and Zach Andrews.