May 4, 2010 11:38:00 AM
Brent Harris knew this season could be special for the Victory Christian Academy baseball team.
After watching many of the team''s younger players take their lumps, Harris watched as an assistant coach as those players slowly matured and gained confidence.
This season, in his first as the Eagles'' head coach, Harris thought things could come together provided the upperclassmen delivered solid leadership.
The older players have responded and with the help of contributions up and down the lineup Victory Christian Academy is in position to make a run in the postseason.
The first step will come at 4 p.m. today (game time changed to 5 p.m. after paper went to press) when Victory Christian (9-1) will play host to Victory Baptist from Millbrook, Ala., to see which team will advance to the Alabama Christian Educators Association State Tournament. That four-team tournament will begin Friday in Dothan, Ala.
The top seed from the North and the South Regions earned automatic spots in the tournament. Victory Christian split two regular-season meetings against Tuscaloosa Christian and then lost a coin toss and finished as the No. 2 seed, which earned it a chance to play Victory Millbrook, the No. 3 seed from the South.
Victory Christian didn''t play Victory Millbrook, which is right outside of Montgomery, Ala., in the regular season.
The two winners Friday will play for the title Saturday.
The Eagles are riding a five-game winning streak entering today''s game. Harris said the Eagles have been hitting the ball well, fielding well, and throwing strikes. He hopes that formula will continue today and into the weekend.
"We have scored double-digit runs in eight of our 10 games," said Harris, who was an assistant coach to David Johnson last season. "We have cut down on the walks a lot from last year, and we have received good leadership from our 11th- and 12th-graders."
Harris said seniors D.J. Bell (shortstop) and Parker Eaves (first baseman) and juniors Landon Ellis (second baseman), Tyler Jones (center fielder), and Ben Williams (catcher) have been the foundation the Eagles have built on. Bell, Eaves, Ellis, and Jones have been solid on the mound. Harris said Ellis will start on the mound today.
Harris also said younger players like Caleb Holiness, a sophomore, eighth-grader Taylor Frye (utility player), and seventh-grader Anthony Sharpe (third baseman) also have stepped up to provide a more balanced lineup. He said last season the Eagles struggled to get production after their first five hitters, but that hasn''t been the case this season.
In fact, he said Holiness has come up with big hit after big hit, including a big two-out, bases-loaded hit against Tuscaloosa Christian that helped propel Victory Christian to a victory.
The result has been a team that has put together the frequent beatings it suffered when many of today''s starters were seventh- and eighth-graders. Harris hopes everything will stick together at least another week to help the team in its quest for a championship.
"I think if we go out there and do what we''re supposed to do we''ll win the ballgame," Harris said.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.