The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

May 7, 2014

Athens Bible players enjoying playoff run

— If you want to catch a playoff game at Athens Bible School, you had better get there early. First pitch for ABS playoff games is at 1 p.m. for Friday doubleheaders.

Parking is limited and so is the daylight. Without lights, Athens Bible plays its games early in the day, creating a unique playoff atmosphere at the 1A baseball powerhouse.

“The second game against Tharptown at night, we struggled seeing the ball,” said Athens Bible coach Bill Murrell about their first-round playoff opponent. “The next day, we tore the cover off the ball.”

The ABS players have enjoyed the early home field starts, with just three losses coming at home this season. Against Cedar Bluff Friday, the Trojans will have another chance to play in the sun in the fourth-round of the playoffs.

“It’s just going out and having fun and playing ball,” said Murrell. “We lost five starters from last year’s team who were either All-state or honorable mention. Those were tremendously experienced players that we had to replace.

“It took a while to come up with the right combination (this year). We’ve settled on a few positions that took a while. Things are starting to click.”

After starting the season 4-4, ABS reeled off 15 consecutive victories during a four-week stretch during March and April to climb to No. 3 in Class 1A. Murrell attributed the winning streak to more confidence fielding the ball as well as at the plate.

“We are a little more confident in fielding the ball.” said Murrell. “They are playing with the kind of confidence where they can do some things. Several of the seniors have stepped up and been leaders. Not just one or two specifically. Some of them are having great offensive years that weren’t in years past. Some of have come on strong during the second half of the season.”

ABS is bolstered by the return of its No. 1 pitcher, Zach Ivey, who was injured for the final two weeks of the regular season. Ivey joins a balanced pitching rotation that features Cole Graviett, Wright Overton and eighth-grader Kenneth Adams.

Athens Bible is looking to return to the state baseball finals for the first time since 2008 when the team won it all. The Trojans will have to get past Cedar Bluff, a team they beat 7-6 during a Fayettville Tournament over spring break.

“Both teams probably took some things away that will help them this weekend,” said Murrell. “We didn’t see all of their pitching, they didn’t see all of ours.”

First pitch from Athens Bible School for Friday’s double-header is at 1 p.m.


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