By Kim West
Striding through the crowded Athens Bible School gym to the locker room, Hayden Phillips is a polite, unassuming student with a quick smile and a wry sense of humor.
But on the baseball diamond, Phillips, a lanky, 5-foot-11-inch senior, is steely and steadfast as Athens Bible aims for the first Class 1A state championship since winning the title in 2008.
In the first four games this season, Phillips, the Trojans’ starting shortstop, moved over to the mound as a relief pitcher when the Trojans (5-0) needed a few strikeouts to close out a victory.
ABS coach Bill Murrell penciled in Phillips as the starting pitcher against Tanner on Monday, and all the right-handed sinkballer did was strike out nine of 15 batters en route to a five-inning no-hitter and a 12-0 road victory against the 2A Rattlers in a matchup of 2012 playoff teams.