Edgewood Academy’s baseball program has scored at least 11 runs in each of its past four games.
Rebounding from an 8-12 start against one of the tougher schedules in the Elmore County area, the Wildcats have parlayed each of those offensive outbursts into victories, embarking on a four-game winning streak that has evened their record to 12-12.
And all four of those triumphs were against area foes.
“We’re finally seeing the ball well and not chasing too many bad pitches,” Edgewood head coach Justin Jones said. “We’re being a bit more patient at the plate and getting good pitches to hit.”
Led by the sizzling bat of Alex Johnson and reliable pitching from Conner Bailey, Edgewood is one win away from securing the top seed in its area and positioning itself to make a run as postseason play draws near.
Jones said that Edgewood has played one of the AISA’s toughest schedules to date this season.
It has included a spring break trip to Florida for the Panama City Invitational, in which the Wildcats played four teams from The Sunshine State with winning records, including 15-4 Mosley from Florida Class 5A.
The Wildcats have also played several regular season games against public schools in higher divisions, some of which have more students in their respective senior classes than Edgewood has in its entire school, Jones said.
While Edgewood’s record has taken some hits as a result, Jones noted the elite competition has been key for his team’s development.
“Playing those guys, and playing the best in those states, and then we turn around and come back to play our guys — I think everything’s just starting to click from seeing some of the best pitching that the southeast has to offer,” Jones said.
March 29 Edgewood smoked Hooper Academy 14-0 in the first game of the two teams’ area series, and it followed that up with another area victory against Autauga Academy 15-3.
Tuesday the Wildcats took both games of an area double header against Cornerstone Christian 16-0 and 11-5, respectively, to cruise to victory in that series.
“We faced a lefty going to Alabama, a lefty going to Auburn, a righty going to Georgia, a righty going to Purdue,” Jones said. “We’ve faced all those guys. And now we’re getting into area play, and we’ve played at such a high level that now the pace of play is on us.”
Edgewood’s offense is humming, and one player stands out statistically as the primary reason. That player is senior Alex Johnson.
Johnson leads the team in batting average at .463, RBIs with 23 and home runs with seven.
No other player in the Elmore County area has more than four long balls.
In the game against Hooper, he went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and grand-slam home run.
“Alex has been swinging it well all year,” Jones said. “He’s a senior for me, he has a lot of pop in his bat, really good plate discipline and hits with power to all fields.”
Bailey has led the Wildcats’ pitching efforts. He’s tossed 30.1 innings this year with a record of 7-2 and an ERA of 1.58.
“We talk about the bulldog mentality on the mound and filling up the strike zone,” Jones said. “We don’t like to give up too many walks. We feel like we have one of the best defenses in the state, and so the worst case is let them hit and they’ll get themselves out. And I feel like Conner has really taken that to heart.”
Moving forward, Jones wants to see his pitchers’ control improve as the team’s current strikeout to walk ratio is just 1.32.
He’ll also be looking for his hitters to take advantage of the pitches they see that suit their strengths.
“I preach to our kids, ‘Every at-bat you’ve got seven to eight pitches. Out of those seven pitches, you’re gonna have one or two that are quality pitches to hit,” Jones said. “The rest of them are pitcher’s pitches. So when you find one of those two, you’ve gotta hit them.”
Edgewood resumes play with its last two area games against Hooper Academy Thursday. The Wildcats can lock down a spot as their area’s No. 1 team with a victory in either of the two games.