By PAUL HINES email@example.com
---- — BLUFORD – A pair of county rivals will be the top seeds in the upcoming 1A baseball regional at Webber.
The host Trojans enter the playoffs as the top seed and open against Thompsonville.
“We're happy to host a regional,” Webber coach Sam Root said. “It's the first regional, I believe, to my knowledge that this school has hosted in any sport. So that's exciting for us, our community.”
Woodlawn is the second seed and plays Norris City-Omaha-Enfield. The Cardinals finished the regular season with matchups against Breese Mater Dei, DuQuoin and Nashville.
“We did that to see better pitching, getting ready to go into the regionals,” Woodlawn coach Mike Kehrer said. “Unfortunately, our bats haven't been there like I'd hope they would have been.”
Webber begins the playoffs after a historic season. The Trojans are 22-8 this year and topped the 20-win mark for the first time in school history. The 22 victories for the Trojans is a school record.
“It's up to us to play good, solid baseball at the right time,” Root said.
The Trojans advanced to the regional title game last season and lost to Gallatin County.
“Twenty wins and a regional title was our goal this season,” Root said. “We didn't shy away from that. There was no reason we should have shied away from that at the start.”
Ty Henderson leads the Trojans. The hurler, who committed to Rend Lake College, is the ace of a deep pitching rotation. He also paces Webber's offense with a .549 batting average and 35 RBI.
Woodlawn opens the playoffs after winning two straight regional titles. Two years ago the Cardinals beat Webber in a regional final on their way to the super-sectional.
“We are a totally different team this year, and I'm not saying we're not as good, but we're just different,” Kehrer said. “And we're not built for speed or power, we just have to do things the little ways.”
The Cardinals overcame a slow start to this season with a 14-game winning streak to finish 15-9 after a loss to Nashville on Monday.
Woodlawn is led by a pitching rotation that includes Logan Isaac, Matt Kennedy and Brendan Petersen. Kennedy will be the team's starter in the opening game, Kehrer said.
“As long as he throws strikes and we make the plays behind him, I think we'll be fine,” the coach said.
Both Webber and Woodlawn open regional play on Wednesday in the semifinals.
1A baseball regional Wednesday 3:30 p.m. (1) Webber vs. (4) Thompsonville 6 p.m. (2) Woodlawn vs. (3) Norris City-Omaha-Enfield Saturday 1 p.m. championship game