Showing his true legend
It could be argued that Hartselle baseball coach William Booth should have been named the top coach in Class 5A last year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
There are certainly plenty of reasons why he should have won the top coaching honor after leading Hartselle: the Tigers won their seventh state championship since Booth took over the program, they won a state-record 50 games, and they dropped just one game in the playoffs.
The honor went to Briarwood Christian’s Lee Hall, the team that Hartselle beat in the finals.
Certainly, Hall had plenty of qualifications to be the state’s Class 5A coach of the year after leading the Lions to their first-ever appearance in a championship series.
Hall won the award in a close vote, beating out Booth in the voting conducted by sports writers across the state.
Now a year later, after leading Hartselle back to Montgomery for the state championship series, Booth picked up the ASWA’s coach of the year honors.
There was no close vote this time. After starting the season 1-12, the fact that Hartselle even got to Montgomery was nothing short of a miracle.
The Tigers lost a long list of talented players from the 2009 championship season. Eight players signed college scholarships, including two pitchers who headed to the Southeastern Conference to play at Mississippi State.
So expectations for 2010 were just a bit tempered. Unless you were Booth, who quietly guaranteed that the Tigers would be back in Montgomery for a run at state title No. 8.
Inexperience kept Hartselle from a pre-season state ranking. The 1-12 start kept the Tigers from breaking the poll at any point in the season.
This team was the first team under Booth to reach the state championship series without being ranked in the state.
Booth probably directed the team in 2009 more than he coached. That’s just how talented and experienced the team was.
But this year, the legendary coach took a bunch of young kids and developed them into a championship-caliber team.
And that’s what earned him state coach of the year honors.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at firstname.lastname@example.org