Panthers playoff boundPublished 8:19am Friday, April 19, 2013
After looking through the gate for the past four years, the Elmore County Panthers cannon balled into the 4A playoff pool after sweeping Dallas County (3-0) in the final series of the season.
“It feels so good,” Wendell Jackson, coach of the Panthers.
Elmore County’s berth wasn’t without a little assistance.
The Panthers became the No. 2 qualifier when Childersburg (the area champions) defeated Holtville in the first game of their season-ending series.
“It was great for our guys to get a three-game sweep going into the playoffs,” said Jackson. “We got some young guys in so they got to see some live arms.”
The Panthers travel to Beauregard Friday/Saturday for a best-of-three series with the Hornets. The winner gets the Childersburg/Handley winner the following weekend.
The Panthers’ race to the pool came down to a sprint between them and rival Holtville.
“We knew we were in Friday night when we got a call saying Holtville lost their game in Childersburg,” said Panthers senior Jackson Adams.
The Panthers (15-15) defeated Dallas County in Plantersville 10-0 on Friday and then completed the sweep Saturday 16-0 and 16-6.
“Dallas County was down; they lost nine seniors from last year’s team,” said Jackson. “But it was good to close things out with a sweep like that.”
Tyler Black picked up the win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Tommy Edwards closed out the regular season with a Game 3 win.
“Knowing we were in took a lot of the pressure off,” said Black, another senior. “We just came out Saturday ready to play.”
The group also came out sporting new haircuts.
“It was my idea,” said Adams. “We just wanted to do something for the playoffs. I really was surprised at how many got mohawks.”
Brandon Arnold was the first of the group followed by all but four Panthers.
Arnold’s dad Scott handled the shears.
“We are going to keep them throughout the playoffs,” said Black.
The Panthers three-game sweep of Dallas County was the first sweep of the season for the Panthers as they split the three prior area series.
“Those games we lost: 2-0, 4-0 and 1-0 in the area,” said Jackson.
“It’s good for this group to get into the playoffs, especially our young kids. They’re coming back next year and they need to experience that.”
Five seniors are looking to extend their last season as a Panther.
“This was great for our seniors, four of them have been with me since they were little kids,” said Jackson.
“Tyler (Black) and Joseph (Kelly) and Jackson (Adams) have been with me since the seventh grade.
“Brandon Arnold moved in as a sophomore and then Alec Norwood moved in last year.
“I’ve watched them grow up, one literally. And they deserve this. They’ve been through some tough stuff here in the past few years.”
PLAYOFF PICTURE FOR CLASS 4A
Oak Grove (19-9) at Bibb County (18-10), Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m., if needed)
Jemison (15-14) at Corner (22-13), Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)
Monroe County (10-13) at Thomasville(20-6), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m., if needed)
UMS-Wright (22-9) at Andalusia (28-8-1), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., noon if needed)
Elmore County (15-15) at Beauregard (24-10), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)
Handley (21-9) at Childersburg (29-5), Fri., 4 p.m.; (Sat., 11 a.m. if needed)
Brewbaker Tech (17-13) at Charles Henderson (30-3), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)
Headland (12-13) at Alabama Christian (21-11), at AUM Complex, Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., 2 p.m. if needed)
West Limestone (10-16) at Brooks (37-8), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., noon, if needed)
Priceville (19-16) at Central-Florence (38-7), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)
Munford (12-10) at Oneonta (19-12), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 2 p.m. if needed)
Fairview (18-9) at Cleburne County (16-11), Fri., 4:30 p.m.; (Sat., 2 p.m. if needed)
Sardis (13-9) at Alexandria (21-10), Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., noon if needed)
Jacksonville (13-8) at Guntersville (21-6), Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., 11 a.m. if needed)
Pope John Paul II (13-10) at Madison County (18-11), Fri., 5 p.m. (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)
North Jackson (19-11) at Ardmore (18-7), Fri., 5 p.m.; (Sat., 1 p.m. if needed)