Two of the joys of spring are the ping sound a bat makes when it hits a ball and the smack a ball makes when it finds the leather of a glove or mitt.
The joy is even greater when it happens in the playoffs for baseball or softball.
We didn’t get to experience that joy in 2020 when COVID forced a shutdown of all spring sports. We missed those playoffs and the photos of teams holding state championship trophies high in the air.
Thankfully, it’s all coming back. It starts Friday with the baseball playoffs for Class 1A-6A. Class 7A baseball and all the softball playoffs begin next week.
Nine area baseball teams are in the baseball playoffs. Five are hosting first-round playoff series because they are area champions. Those teams are Decatur Heritage, Falkville, Lindsay Lane, West Limestone and Elkmont.
Unlike other sports, home field is not necessarily a huge advantage. The advantage usually goes to the team with the best pitching.
Hartselle (21-12) with its great pitching staff would look to have a great chance to win at Buckhorn (19-14), but the No. 6-ranked Tigers have to score runs. Even just three or four a game might be enough.
In Class 2A, Decatur Heritage (25-5) would look to have an advantage with a high-scoring offense and talented pitching staff, but the No. 3-ranked Eagles draw a tough opening round opponent in No. 9 Colbert County (28-8).
Falkville (20-10) is another 2A team hosting a series against a team with more victories than the home team. Ider (23-9) is ranked No. 8.
The Priceville (19-13) at West Limestone (25-6) series guarantees at least one area team advances to the second round. It’s odd that the Class 4A teams did not meet up this season.
Both teams can score a lot of runs, but one big advantage for No. 4-ranked West Limestone is sophomore pitcher Colin Patterson. In his last 11 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 26 batters.
West Limestone is one of five teams in the playoffs from Limestone County. Joining the Wildcats are fellow Limestone County school system teams Elkmont and Ardmore. Then there are the private schools Athens Bible and Lindsay Lane.
This is Lindsay Lane’s first appearance in the playoffs. Athens Bible is making its 31st playoff appearance.