SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: HHS baseball faces one of toughest 6A areas

Hartselle head baseball coach William Booth expects the Tigers to be competing against some of the best competition in the state in 2015, and that’s just in Hartselle’s own area.

Cullman, who enters the season as one of the favorites in Class 6A, features four future Division 1 players, 2 junior college players and another who is playing Division 2 ball at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Austin and Decatur both feature baseball players who will be continuing their careers in college.

“It might be one of the most competitive areas that we’ve ever played in,” Booth said. “All of our opponents have college signees, but we have a few of our own.”

Tate Mathis already signed with the University of North Alabama. Jake Nelson and Mason Towers signed with Wallace State and Calhoun, respectively.

That trio leads 22 juniors and seniors that are returning to the Hartselle Tiger program. Of those 22, seniors Cooper Wright and Nic James are the other returning players who will see a lot of playing time.

Juniors Jake Rice and Ben Kimbrough along with sophomore Brady Netherton are three other players that return varsity experience that Booth is counting on.

As far as hitting goes, Booth knows he’s going to have a big hole to replace after Brett Blackwood graduated and is now playing for the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers.

“It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like Blackwood,” Booth said. “We’re going to need some players to step up and take his place.”

The leading returning hitters for Hartselle were Tyler Cook, Hayden Bradford, Mathis, Zeth Malcolm and Netherton, all of whom saw significant playing time. Other players that Booth expects to make a difference for Hartselle are Collins Hanners, Lane Anders and Collin Blackwood, all of whom were major contributors to the success of the JV team last year.

One area that Booth sees as a weakness is their experience.

“We have a lot of guys that have played a lot on the JV and ninth grade teams,” Booth said. “We’re hoping that will carry over into varsity, but you never know if that will happen.”

Hartselle plays, as usual, one of the most competitive baseball schedules in AHSAA. Their schedule is littered with Class 6A and 7A teams, including Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Bob Jones, Muscle Shoals, Grissom, Spain Park, Sparkman Southside, Thompson and Northridge.

They also play in the Birmingham-Huntsville preseason tournament and the Hoover Spring Break Tournament, which will feature some of the best teams in Alabama.

“It’s a challenging schedule with a lot of games, but the only way you get better is to get on the field and play,” Booth said. “You can practice all you want, but nothing can simulate a game scenario other than just playing games.

“Our goal is just to get  better every day,” Booth added. “We want to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season.”

2015 HHS Varsity Baseball Schedule

Feb. 16-21 Birmingham-Huntsville Tournament

Feb. 16 at Buckhorn 11 a.m.

Feb. 16 at Grissom 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 17 James Clemens 4 p.m.

Feb. 18 Bob Jones 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 20 Huntsville (at Spain Park) 4 p.m.

Feb. 20 at Vestavia 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 21 at Hewitt-Trussville 4 p.m.

Feb. 25 at Northridge 4:30 p.m. (DH)

Feb. 26 at Muscle Shoals 4:30 p.m. (DH)

Feb. 28 Etowah noon

Feb. 28 Florence 3 p.m.

March 3 at Thompson 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 7 Athens 11 a.m.

March 7 Randolph 4 p.m.

March 10 Russellville 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 13 Buckhorn (at Grissom) 4 p.m.

March 13 Pell City (at UAH) 7 p.m.

March 14 Farragut, Tenn. (at Madison) noon

March 14 Bob Jones (at Grissom) 2:30 p.m.

March 17 Decatur* 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 19 at Decatur* 4 p.m. (DH)

March 21 Southside 11:30 a.m.

March 21 Northridge 4:30 p.m.

March 24 at Austin* 4 p.m. (DH)

March 26 Austin* 4 p.m. (DH)

March 28 Sparkman noon (DH)

March 30-April 2 Hoover Spring Break Tournament

March 30 Thompson (Field 1) 3:45 p.m.

March 30 Pell City (Field 1) 6 p.m.

March 31 Marbury (Field 2) 3:45 p.m.

April 1 at Hoover 3:45 p.m.

April 1 Northridge (Shades Mtn. Park) 6 p.m.

April 2 Tournament TBA

April 7 Cullman* 4:30 p.m. (DH)

April 9 at Cullman* 4:30 p.m. (DH)

April 10 Arlington (at Collierville, Tenn.) 4:30 p.m.

April 10 at Collierville, Tenn. 7 p.m.

April 11 Riverdale (at Collierville, Tenn.) 9 a.m.

April 11 at Houston, Tenn. 12:30 p.m.

April 11 Bartlett (at Houston, Tenn.) 3 p.m.

*-area game (first game of DH)


2015 HHS JV Baseball Schedule

Feb. 16-21 Sparkman  JV Tournament

Feb. 26 Florence 4:30 p.m. (DH)

Feb. 27 at Madison Aca. 4 p.m. (DH)

Feb. 28 Hoover (at Thompson) 3 p.m.

Feb. 28 Huntsville (at Thompson) 5 p.m.

March 2 Russellville 4 p.m. (DH)

March 5 at Cullman 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 9 Austin 4 p.m. (DH)

March 11 Sparkman 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 18 Thompson 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 19 James Clemens 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 21 Giles Co., Tenn. (at Athens) 1:30 p.m.

March 21 at Athens 3 p.m.

March 23 at Florence 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 26 at Austin 4 p.m. (DH)

March 27 at Cullman 4 p.m. (DH)

March 30 Decatur 4 p.m. (DH)

April 2 at Decatur 4 p.m. (DH)

April 4 Huntsville 10 a.m.

April 4 James Clemens 5 p.m.

April 6 at Sparkman 4 p.m. (DH)

TBA Bob Jones Tournament


2015 HHS Freshmen Baseball Schedule

Feb. 16-21 Grissom Tournament

Feb. 26 at Russellville 4 p.m. (DH)

March 2 at Sparkman 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 12 at Austin 4 p.m. (DH)

March 13 Russellville 4 p.m. (DH)

March 14 Athens 10 a.m.

March 14 James Clemens 1:30 p.m.

March 16 Sparkman 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 20 Grissom 4 p.m. (DH)

March 21 James Clemens 11 a.m. (DH)

March 23 Austin 4 p.m. (DH)

March 24 at Florence 4:30 p.m. (DH)

March 28 at Athens 11 a.m. (DH)

March 31 Randolph 4:30 p.m. (DH)

April 6 at Cullman 4:30 p.m. (DH)

April 8 at Huntsville 4:30 p.m. (DH)

April 9 at Randolph 4:30 p.m. (DH)

TBA Huntsville Tournament


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