Sweet Water advances to State Title Series

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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The Sweet Water High School baseball team has faced elimination four times in the Class 1A playoffs, and four times, the Bulldogs have found ways to win.

The semifinals were no different, as Sweet Water rallied from a 3-2 loss in game 1 against Florala to win 13-1 and 7-3 to close out the series and advance to the championship series.

Sweet Water will take on Sumiton Christian at Oxford at Choccolocco Park. First pitch Tuesday was scheduled for 11 a.m. Game 2 would follow on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Jacksonville State’s Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium. The third game would follow Game 2 at JSU if necessary.

Finding a way

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Baseball coach Dawson Turberville said his team just finds ways to win.

“We’ve been grinding games out, and that’s been the thing through the playoffs,” Turberville said. “We haven’t quit at any point in any series, and I’ll tip my hat to the boys. They’ve, really done a really good job of not laying down.”

The Bulldogs fell in Game 1 despite giving up four hits, but they rallied to win the next two and advance. The defense was strong in the whole series as they had just one error in the three games, but timely hitting was the key in the turnaround.

“We left the bases loaded three times with nobody out and didn’t score, but in game two, we really turned it on and got some big hits, especially through our seniors,” Turberville said. “They came up big for us. And in game three, it was just a well played game all the way around. I mean, we hit the ball, played great defense and had great pitching.”

Turberville said Sumiton Christian is a great team with good pitching, but he feels they can match up well.

“They’re a very well-rounded team and very solid on the mound,” Turberville said. “They got two arms that are really good, but I don’t think it’s anything we haven’t seen this year from what I’ve scouted. They’ve been really good defensively and they’re just a well-coached team from what I’ve gathered from them.”

Key players have stepped up

Tuberville said several of his players have stepped up. 

“My, nine-hole hitter, Tim Kelly, he’s really come on strong. I think he’s hitting .385 in the playoffs. He started off a little slow this year, but he’s a true bulldog. He hasn’t given up at any point. He’s continued to get better and he’s been doing an excellent job for us,” Turberville said.

“David Etheridge has really been a big workhorse, especially on the mound. Nate Norris, another pitcher, he’s done a really good job. Peyton Averette had 18 RBIs in the series against South Lamar. He’s really come on with the bat.

“Matt Simpson has been really good defensively for us and solid all year. Freshman, Ethan Carr, he’s my three-hole hitter. He’s really been a strong force all year. Evan Dunn is our DH, and he’s done a really good job, especially in the South Lamar series.”

Excited to be back

Sweet Water is no stranger to the baseball championships. The Bulldogs have won 10 state titles in school history with their last championship coming in 2018. Turberville said they have been working toward getting back to this level since he started here three years ago.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to get to compete for a state championship,” Turberville said. “We’ve worked hard for this opportunity. and I’ve told the boys not everyone gets this opportunity. They’ve worked hard for this chance to play for it, and I’m excited to see what they’re gonna bring to the championship series.

“The kids here at the school really work hard, and they’ve done an excellent job of buying into what me and Coach Roosevelt and Coach (Tate) Gibbs have been trying to preach to them. And the community support here has been amazing too. They’re the backbone for us. Our parents, we’ve got great leadership parent wise, and our administration has done a really good job as well supporting us.”