Ga. — Nine of the 32 playoffs spots have been clinched with one day
of pool play remaining at the PG/WWBA 18u National Championship. One
of those spots belongs to Alabama Baseball Academy.
guaranteed themselves a chance to play for the title with a 12-1 win
Tuesday afternoon. They’re 6-0 through five days of pool play and
have outscored their opponents 53-9.
has allowed two or fewer runs in five of their six contests, thanks
to heads-up defense and stellar starting pitching from left handed pitchers Mason
Mcdougall (2013, Thompson HS, Ala.), and Tripp Hobbs (2013, Chelsea
HS, Ala), as well as right handers Jake Walters (2014, Thompson HS, Ala.) and Cheston
Wesson (2012, Sylacauga HS, Ala.). The four have allowed a combined
four earned runs in 26 innings pitched (1.38 ERA).
Head Coach Rusty Riley stresses the importance of good pitching, he
believes his lineup is one of the best in the tournament. Based on
the numbers alone, it’s hard to argue against that. Only five teams have
scored more than the 53 runs ABA has plated thus far: East Cobb
Braves 17u (62), Team Georgia (60), North East Jaxx (57), 643 DP
Cougars 17u (56) and East Cobb Braves 18u (55).
Smith (2012, Thompson HS, Ala.) and Clayton Palicki (2011, Madison
Academy HS, Ala.) have been the leaders on offense. Smith—who is
committed to Wallace State—is 10-for-18 (.556) with 10 RBI in the
tournament while Palicki is 6-for-16 (.429) with three doubles, a
home run and 10 RBI.
Masonia (2011, Brooks HS, Ala.)—who is committed to Northwest
Florida State—is one of the team leaders as well. He holds the
career Alabama state home run record (66), but according to Coach
Riley, his contributions go way beyond the box score.
is the ideal player you want in your organization,” he said. “He’s
the kid that does anything you ask him to do. He’s humble for the
accolades he’s gotten over his career, which is amazing for a kid
who can play any position and bat anywhere in the lineup. He’s
always team first. When it comes down to it, he wants to do what’s
best for the team. That’s the type of player you want to represent
your organization, and we’ve enjoyed having him."
asked about his personal achievements, Masonia response proved just
how mature he is.
just trying to do everything I can to keep this ball club up,” he
said. “This is a very talented group. If I go 0-for-4 and we win,
that’s all I care about.”
year marks ABA’s third straight playoff appearance in this
tournament. In 2010, they played as Team Alabama in the 17u National
Championship, losing 24-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
game taught me something about our team,” Coach Riley said. “A
few scouts asked me after the game if we won. I told them we lost
24-0. They had no idea because our kids played hard throughout the
game and never gave up.”
year they lost in the second round of the playoffs. This time,
they’re hoping to go all the way. Left handed pitcher Cameron Cummings (2013,
Chilton County HS, Ala.) will start ABA’s first playoff game
was our No. 1 goal coming in,” Coach Riley said. “Anything can
happen. Our rotation is set up pretty much the way we want it. If we
can get good, quality starts out of our pitching, I think we have a
good chance to make a deep run into these playoffs.”
or lose, the players and coaches of ABA are thankful for the
opportunity this tournament provides.
no other tournament that has this level of play with teams from all
over the country,” Coach Riley said. “It gives all these kids the
experience to play in front of college coaches and college scouts.
It’s a good experience for them and helps to get them where they
want to go. To be able to come here in one spot and have all those
opportunities for these kids, you can’t beat it.”