First-year coach leads Monroe Academy to sweep of Autauga Academy
By Tim Gayle
It’s a nice way to close out your first year as head baseball coach.
Adam Hood stepped in for Monroe Academy coach Mitchell Turberville when the veteran coach announced he wanted to concentrate fully on his role as the Volunteers’ football coach. After Hood coached the program to its first-ever state championship with a sweep of Autauga in the Alabama Independent School Association’s Class AAA series, he doesn’t plan on handing it back.
“We have never won (a state title) in baseball and we owe a lot of credit to Mitchell, the way he has handled this program,” Hood said. “He built it to this spot, gave it up for one year, then wound up getting it back. I came in as an assistant and he trusted me with it. We’ve got a great group coming back next year so it’s a possibility (he wants it back).”
Monroe (34-8) got a two-hit performance from sophomore Trace Holder in the opener, then used an inside-the-park home run in the second game to finish off the Generals on Wednesday afternoon at Paterson Field.
“The first game, we obviously didn’t compete very well but in the second game we came out and competed and was right there in the thick of it,” Autauga coach Joe Faulk said. “Their shortstop and third baseman made two outstanding plays that we would have scored a couple of runs on with the bases loaded. Our hits wouldn’t find a hole and theirs did.”
In the first game, series most valuable player Zach Cumbie made a leaping grab to end the first inning, but much of the heroics were provided by Holder, who retired the final batter on a groundout in the third and on strikeouts in three of the final innings. In all, he struck out seven and allowed only a double to Zach Paulene and a single to Dawson Moncrief, both in the sixth inning that led to the Generals’ only run.
“When Trace Holder is on the mound, even though he’s just a 10th grader, we just feel like we’re going to win the game,” Hood said.
Drew Dees had a two-run single in the third and RBI singles in the fourth by Lane Powell and Blaine Lee capped a 6-1 victory.
In the second game, the Generals were thwarted by a diving forceout at second by Cumbie in the first; a diving grab of a line drive by third baseman Griffin McKenzie in the third; and a leaping grab by Cumbie on a base-loaded line drive in the fifth.
“On defense, he’s so important at shortstop,” Hood said. “He makes all kind of plays. He saved us there in the sixth with a big leaping grab. Earlier, he made a diving stop up the middle and slides into second for the out. Defensively, he’s just been good for us all year.”
Cumbie went 3 for 5 in the series, doubling and scoring in the first inning of the second game to go with his glove in the field.
“This is a great way to go out,” Cumbie said, “but this is a team game and that’s what I’m all about. (A championship) means the world to us. We’ve been working a long time for this one. We’ve been close the past couple of years and we finally got it.”
Lee’s RBI single in the fifth scored what proved to be the game-winning run but the Volunteers broke open a 1-1 game in the second when J.D. Hall hit an RBI single and was followed by Dent Stallworth’s fly ball to right field.
The high drive chased the right fielder back toward the wall, then dropped in when the ball was lost in the sun. As the relay skipped away from second baseman Kyle Chandler, Stallworth continued home for a 4-1 lead.
“Another out, the end of the inning,” Hood said, recalling his thoughts. “When I noticed he was not going to catch the ball, I was just trying to get our guy (Hall) to score from first base. They made a mistake and missed their cutoff guy and we were able to get that run in and that was huge.”
Paulene went 3 for 7 in the series and 2 for 4 in the second game for Autauga (31-10). Chandler went 2 for 3 and Josh Milliman went 2 for 4 in the second game.