Climbing the rankings

Jon Dalton Pate (center) and the Wolves are ranked No. 2 in baseball in Class 2A.

East central Alabama was well-represented in the  inaugural 2019 Alabama Sports Writers Association baseball/softball rankings, which were released  Wednesday.

The Daily Home’s coverage area had four baseball teams make the list, as well as two softball teams.

Fayetteville High School’s baseball team is ranked second in Class 2A. The Wolves are 7-4, including wins over 5A Munford and 4A Childersburg. Fayetteville also played a talented Sylacauga team close, falling 2-1.

“I am very blessed for our team to be recognized,” Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips said. “Being ranked No. 2 in the state is a big accomplishment. We have to work to stay there and earn that ranking.”

Phillips has been pleased with the way his team has played so far this season, but he knows the Wolves will have to play at a high level every time they step on the diamond now.

“We have been playing pretty decent ball,” Phillips said. “I am very proud of our team. We have seniors on our team that are stepping up and pushing each other.

“These guys are working hard, they are putting in the work. I hope that this ranking won’t go to their heads because from here on, we are going to have a target on our back. People are not going to take us lightly. … We are going to get everybody’s best.”

Winterboro was ranked sixth in 1A. The Bulldogs are 8-2, and this is the highest they have been ranked in school history, according to head coach Alan Beckett.

“I am happy that we are ranked period,”  Beckett said. “Anytime you get your name out there, it is good for the school and it is good for the community, it is good for the kids.

“I have been fortunate to have been ranked at several other schools, but for here, it is a little more special because there's so little baseball history.

“I am excited about it, but like Michael Jordan used to say, the most important shot is your next shot, so our next important game is our next game.”

Beckett has been pleased with the way his team has played in 2019, but he knows things will get tougher when Winterboro has to face Ragland and Victory Christian in area play.

The Purple Devils are ranked 10th in 1A, while the Lions  received votes in the opening poll.

“I feel like we have played well despite a lot of rain,” Beckett said. “We have an older group, we have kind of run them through. We hoped that they would have some success this year.

“The first part of the season is like the spring training part, the first end of it is good, but I am sure that it will get tougher as we go.”

In softball, Lincoln debuts at No. 10 in the 4A rankings. The Lady Golden Bears are 13-4, including a 6-2 win over Sylacauga to win their fifth straight Talladega County softball championship.

Lincoln has wins over several teams in higher classifications, including Pelham, Pinson Valley, Shades Valley, St. Clair County and Oxford.

Pell City received votes in 6A. The Lady Panthers are off to an 11-4 start that includes wins over Homewood, Smiths Station, Briarwood and Hale County.