OHATCHEE — Blake Jennings had a good view of his mentor’s 500th victory this season.
Jennings’ Ohatchee team was waiting to play a game in Oxford’s Spring Experience when Alexandria gave 27th-year head coach Andy Shaw his 500th victory on the same field. Between games, Jennings made a point to congratulate his high school coach.
“I told him,” said Jennings, a 2007Alexandria grad, “I hope in 27 years, I can say the same thing.”
More seasons like 2018, and Jennings’ prospects look good.
Minus 2017 grads Austin Tucker and Taylor Eubanks, two of Ohatchee’s most celebrated athletes, Ohatchee went 15-15, won Class 3A, Area 9 and reached the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 1986. The breakthrough season earned Jennings recognition as The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 1A-3A baseball coach of the year.
The Indians lost to eventual 3A semifinalist Locust Fork. They swept Carbon Hill in the first round at home.
Jennings will tell you he patterns his approach to coaching after Shaw.
“He made us work hard,” Jennings said in March. “We worked hard every day. It’s kind of like with our guys. We don’t let them get away with little things.”
This season’s success, however, had more to do with getting his team to play like a team. “It’s been the first group I’ve had that fought for each other all year long,” he said.