Archives for April 2017

Luker, Irvin anchor Sweet Water shutout of Southern Choctaw

With the regular season winding down, Sweet Water got a strong performance from Thea Luker Monday in a 6-0 shutout of Southern Choctaw. Luker held the SCHS batters at bay for seven innings, striking out nine while scattering five hits and issuing one walk. Luker allowed more than one base runner in an inning only once in the game while needing only 92 pitches to navigate all seven innings.

Sweet Water staked Luker to a lead in the bottom of the first inning with a three-run rally. Sara Irvin opened with a leadoff double. Lindsay Davis followed with a single to right to score Irvin for the 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Natalie Luker drove home Davis for a 2-0 advantage. BreAnna Ramsey came on to run for Luker, later scoring on an error for the 3-0 lead.

Irvin got things started again in the bottom of the second when she singled before scoring after a double from Davis to move the advantage to 4-0.

The score stayed there until the bottom of the sixth when Elaina Mitchell singled and Irvin stroked a two-run homer to left to cap the offensive output.

Irvin’s 3-for-4 day moved her season average to .532 to go along with four homers and 30 RBIs.

Sweet Water moves to 17-17 with the win.

Genesis Rehab, UWA partnership greatly benefits Demopolis athletes

Demopolis High School athletes and their visiting opponents are now being taken care of better than ever thanks to a new partnership that has altered the landscape of available training services.

“When I got here in January, we really had a need for something that has concerned me since I’ve been here. We have a significant amount of athletes. We’re talking about probably 300 kids just at the high school that participate in some form or fashion in athletics here. Obviously, their safety and medical needs should be and are a priority,” Demopolis High Principal Blaine Hathcock said of the need for enhancing athletic training services on the campus. “When we got here in January, we wanted to explore a lot of options to get that in a lot better shape so, if we had an event going on, we would have somebody on campus at all times to monitor those things.”

In considering the array of options, Hathcock and Tony Pittman, DHS assistant principal and athletic director, reached out to physical therapist Skibo Holman and Genesis Rehab.

“Coach Pittman and Mr. Hathcock got with us and said, ‘We’ve got so many kids out here and we have got to find some athletic training support for all these athletic events and we need some help doing that.’ I said, ‘I’ll see what we can do’ because I had no idea how all that went,” Holman said of the initial meeting.

Holman did his due diligence on the matter as he reached out to the University of West Alabama and R.T. Floyd, the renowned director of athletic training and sports at the university. That conversation proved the genesis of an unique partnership between UWA’s budding athletic trainers and Genesis Rehab, a union formed entirely to serve the student-athletes of Demopolis High School.

“R.T. kind of explained to me several different avenues that we could go. At this point in the year, they’re actually already busy with other schools, with other commitments that they make. However, we got all the athletic trainers together, the graduate assistants and kind of did it by committee. We laid out all the scheduling, laid out what was really most important and between six of the graduate assistants, everybody covered somewhere on days they didn’t have something else to do. So it’s really a big commitment on their part,” Holman explained. “And R.T. was more than gracious in helping us figure out what you can do, what you need to stay away from, how it works best because he has been doing that forever. We kind of came up with a plan, saw that it would work, and over a period of two weeks probably, we got it all in place. We decided that we would pay the athletic trainers to come over and cover and do it by committee. Everybody just took a day. They send me a list every week and tell me who is coming over, who is doing what and we make sure we’ve got everything covered. It has worked fabulously so far.”

“Skibo at Genesis Rehab along with UWA have agreed to partner with us to take care of those medical needs and training needs for our kids. So I’m extremely happy for our kids and our school. It is a game changer for our school and for our athletic programs and, the most important thing, for the safety of our kids,” Hathcock said.

As he began to explore the need for such services, Holman found himself amazed at the magnitude of the school’s athletic program. In the spring, Demopolis athletics include tennis, track, golf and soccer for boys and girls as well as baseball and softball.

“(Genesis Rehab physical therapist Don Sprewell) does football. He has been doing that for who knows how long. But, really, in the other sports, it has just been nothing or the other team brought one. That has gone okay, but there is a huge liability there,” Holman said of the previous circumstances around Demopolis athletic events. “But in talking to Blaine, to Coach Pittman, and to R.T., I just went home one night and said, ‘I’ve got to find a way to do this.’ Immediately, once we got someone out there, we’ve already had two big incidences that required someone to be there. It’s just the Lord looking out for how things went. There was a sense of urgency when we first got it because we all just felt like this was all getting so big.”

“We’ve had events that happen that magnifies why you need somebody. We had a girl hit in the mouth with a softball at a softball game that was pretty traumatic. We had somebody on campus from UWA that was standing there. Tuesday, we had about 300 kids at a track meet from about 12 different schools, so we had multiple trainers here” Hathcock said. “Those are things that make us feel more secure that we’re doing the right things for the kids. We’re extremely thankful to Genesis for them to be able to step us both financially and logistically to be able to manage all those things.”

Under the current setup, UWA graduate assistants rotate days to guarantee all of the Demopolis High athletic events and practices are covered by a trainer. The GAs often bring other students with them to provide further assistance to DHS.

“The high school has bent over backwards to try to help us with this, providing us space and a golf cart. Everybody has really just worked overtime to try to make this thing happened. And, once it happened, it was like we should have done this years ago,” Holman said. “Those guys are really skilled. I’ve been real impressed with the way the graduate assistants handle themselves and the way R.T. has kind of taught them what to do. They really just take control and do what they need to do.”

“No cost for the high school,” Hathcock said of the service being afforded to the high school. “I can’t be more thankful than I am for them to allow us to be able to provide this to our kids. He stepped up to the plate for us to be able to do that.”

As the spring sports season draws to a close, Holman has already laid out plans to improve upon the level of care afforded Demopolis student-athletes next academic year.

“Next year, we’ve already signed a contract for one graduate assistant to be over here full time. That will help a lot because you get a continuity of care. She gets to know the individual team members and the coaches get to know that person,” Holman said. “And that person then can not just look at the reactive role when somebody gets hurt, but they can also focus on the proactive role of showing kids what to do, watching out for preinjury. When you have someone there whose eyes are just dedicated to watching kids and the potential for injury, she can solve a lot of this on the front end.”

Demopolis girls tennis headed for state


The Demopolis High School girls tennis team consists of Allie Busby, Anna Golden, Avery Schumacher, Abigail Hathcock, Bridget Cobb, Buckley Nettles, Cassidy Crawford, Ella Quarles, Molly Harrison, Sara Jordan and Taylor Langley. The team is coached by Meagan Gurley and Fleming Tartt.

The Demopolis High Schools girls tennis team is headed to the state tournament at the Mobile Tennis Center Monday after having finished second in the Section 4 draw at Briarwood Christian School last week.

Despite the team’s oldest player being a freshman, the Tigers took runner-up status amid a field that included Briarwood, Central-Tuscaloosa, Corner, Oak Grove, Pleasant Grove and Sipsey Valley.

Allie Busby (8th), Abbie Hathcock (8th), Molly Katherine Harrison (7th), Anna Kate Golden (8th), Ella Quarles (8th) and Buckley Nettles (7th) each competed in singles for Demopolis.

Nettles and Quarles each finished as runners up in their respected singles seeds. Harrison and Golden finished as runners up in the No. 2 seed doubles. Nettles and Quarles took runner-up in No. 3 seed doubles. Busby and Hathcock finished third in No. 1 seed doubles.


Demopolis softball takes two in Hueytown tourney

Demopolis completed a strong weekend in Hueytown Saturday evening with wins over Oak Grove and Tuscaloosa County.

Demopolis 5, Tuscaloosa County 2

Demopolis opened its afternoon with a 5-2 win over Class 7A Tuscaloosa County. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Abbey Latham reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on an error. County High used a walk, an error, a hit-by-pitch and a single to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second.

The score remained there until top of the fifth when the Tigers erupted for four runs. Taylor Smith singled to open the inning. Two batters later, Elly Brown singled. Latham then tripled to plate both runners and put her team up 3-2. Natalie Tatum then doubled in Latham to move the advantage to 4-2. Kendall Hannah tripled home courtesy runner Lane Braeden Burbage to cap the scoring.

Tatum struck out three batters over five innings while allowing three hits and two unearned runs for the win.

Demopolis 7, Oak Grove 0

Demopolis followed with a strong performance in all facets of the game in a 7-0 victory over Oak Grove. Tatum struck out six batters over six innings while scattering three hits.

Courtney Smith singled and later scored on an error to put the Tigers up 1-0. Latham singled and then scored on a Tatum hit to put the lead at 2-0 after one inning of play.

Demopolis extended the lead in the top of the third as Latham hit a leadoff homer. Tatum walked and gave way to courtesy runner Lane Braeden Burbage who scored on an error for the 4-0 lead.

Hannah doubled n the top of the fifth and scored on Napoleon Roberson’s two-out single to make it 5-0. Courtney Smith singled to open the sixth before Brown and Latham each walked to load the bases. Smith scored on an error to make it 6-0. Hannah then took a beanball to plate Brown for the final run of the game.

Demopolis (30-8) had been set to face Oxford but saw that game get rained out to punctuate its tournament run.

Photo of the Day

Charles Casper gets the hero’s ride from R.J. Cox after Hunter Colyar slid into home on Casper’s hit to win game three of the Tigers’ first round playoff series with Brewbaker Tech.

Tigers extend season in extras

4-22-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — The Demopolis Tigers celebrate their game three victory over Brewbaker Tech.

“He threw strikes. He made them put the ball in play. Chandler has thrown pens all year. He has done all our pitching drills all year. He threw a pen last week. We just hadn’t had the opportunity to get him in. It just worked out in the biggest two innings of the year that he came in,” Demopolis coach James Moody said of the work from the Tigers’ fifth pitcher of the afternoon. “I had (the pitching order) written out and logged out through (Andrew) Fuqua. Then I figured my next one would be Chandler. I hoped we didn’t have to get to that point, but the coaches went in last night and we set it all up. We managed to make it work.”

Barton retired the only four batters he faced to notch the win in the rubber game of the Class 5A first round playoff series. The Tigers won it when three straight walks in the bottom of the seventh loaded the bases with only one out before Charles Casper hit a chopper to third that allowed Hunter Colyar to slide in for the game-winning run.

The sequence became a possibility in the bottom of the seventh when Demopolis overcame their 15-13 deficit on a two-run single by Hunter Thrash that plated Hudson Holley and Jonathon Lewis to tie the game.

“We were down three and came back and tied it. We were down three again and I think we scored seven, which shows a lot of character about our kids. Then, obviously, the big hit by Hunter Thrash in the seventh to tie the game up: a 10th grader there making a big play for us, a big impact for us,” Moody said.

4-22-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Chandler Barton stretches toward the plate during the Tigers’ game three victory over Brewbaker Tech.

Demopolis previously watched Brewbaker Tech score three in the top of the seventh to take a 15-13 lead before turning to Barton.

Demopolis overcame an early 3-0 hold in the bottom of the first when Colyar doubled home Barton to cut it to, Lewis tripled in Henry Overmyer and Charles Casper singled in Lewis to tie the game.

Tech scored three more in the top of the third before the Tigers sent 12 to the plate to score seven runs and take a 10-6 lead. Thrash drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Overmyer. Tyler Jones doubled home Casper and Morrison to tie the game. Thrash scored on a Barton walk, Jones scored on a Colyar walk, DeDe Davis scored on a walk by R.J. Cox and Barton scored on a Lewis walk to make it 10-6. The inning ended on a runner’s interference call that resulted in an automatic double play and took two runs off the board. The Tigers would see double plays end the third, fifth, and sixth innings to keep the game close.

After Jayden Sloan hit a solo homer in the fourth to cut it to 10-7, the Tigers rallied again in the fifth. Davis scored on a Cox walk. Barton scored on Lewis’s RBI grounder and Colyar came in on Casper’s single to move the advantage to 13-7. A fly ball to right with one away allowed Demopolis to score again but the run was negated when the runner on first failed to get back in time, resulting in an inning-ending double play. Brewbaker then turned two walks, two hit-by-pitches and two errors into six runs in the top of the sixth to narrow the gap to 13-12 and put itself in striking distance for the win.

“I don’t remember the last time we blew a lead that big. The tough thing about it for our pitchers was that most of it was because we didn’t catch the baseball. We did that to ourselves,” Moody said. “It just all collapsed right there in like the fifth and sixth. Maybe playing a game like this will help us next week. That has been our motto all year. It’s on the back of our shirts: focus to finish. You don’t know which pitch, which at-bat, which groundball is going to be the one that wins the game. That certainly proved true today with 31 runs scored. That’s ugly baseball.”

4-22-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Hunter Colyar starts his slide to the plate for the game winning run in the Tigers’ game three victory over Brewbaker Tech.

Fifteen different Demopolis players entered the game, including two in Fuqua and Thrash who were junior varsity players just two weeks ago.

“I think, as much as anything, it makes them all accountable. It makes them understand that, ‘Okay, when I’m at practice I’m not just here to keep a book or keep a chart or chase foul balls. I might have to throw or I might to go in and hit. I think it makes them accountable, but I also think it just brings the group together closer,” Moody said. “I tell people all the time the first two things I try to do every year with a team, regardless of who it is, is for them to trust me and them to build chemistry amongst the team. If those two things happen, we’ll be as good as we can be. I think that builds into that chemistry with those younger guys.”

Demopolis (18-6) is set to travel to Beauregard Friday for a second round series.

Sweet Water breezes through first round

Sweet Water had little trouble dispatching of Winterboro in the first round of the Class 1A state baseball playoffs Friday. The Bulldogs took game one 23-0 before trouncing Winterboro 22-6 in game two.

Sweet Water 23, Winterboro 0

Sweet Water did all of its game one damage in the second and fourth innings. Hunter Mendenhall reached on an error to open the bottom of the second before Chance Broussard drew a walk. Luke Davis followed with a two-run triple and the flood gates were open. Braiden Broussard then singled home Trent Sams to move it to 3-0. John Thomas Etheridge singled in Braiden Broussard to make it 4-0. After a Sasha Smith single, Jonah Smith tripled to stretch the lead to 6-0. A two-out error plated Chastain Washington to make it 7-0 before another error allowed Will Huckabee and Chance Broussard to cap the nine-run rally.

A Huckabee hit-by-pitch opened the bottom of the fourth for the Bulldogs and ignited a 14-run rally. Chance Broussard doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. Davis singled Huckabee home to make it 10-0. After Chance Broussard scored on a passed ball, Braiden Broussard singled in Sams for the 12-0 lead. Etheridge then singled before Shamar Lewis doubled in Braiden Broussard to move it to 13-0. Two batters later, Etheridge scored on a Jonah Smith grounder. Huckabee followed with a double to plate Lewis and Sasha Smith for the 16-0 lead. Huckabee scored on an error for the 17-0 lead. Chance Broussard singled in R.J. Rodgers. Etheridge drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Chance Broussard for the 19-0 lead. Lewis tripled in Sams, Braiden Broussard and Etheridge for the 22-0 advantage. Sasha Smith then singled in Lewis to set the final margin.

Jonah Smith was dominant on the mound, striking out 11 while allowing just one hit over five shutout innings.

Sweet Water 22, Winterboro 6

Sweet Water scored in all five innings and ran its lead to 22-0 before Winterboro got on the board in game two. Sasha Smith picked up the win on the mound, striking out six over three innings of no-hit work.

Sasha Smith singled to open the game before Jonah Smith doubled him in for the 1-0 lead. Mendenhall later singled in the elder Smith for a 2-0 lead. Chastain Washington came on as a courtesy runner for Mendenhall and stole third before scoring on a dropped third strike for the 3-0 lead.

Etheridge’s double in the top of the second ignited another rally. Two batters later, he scored on a passed ball. Jonah Smith then doubled in Lewis and Sasha Smith for the 6-0 lead. Huckabee doubled home Jonah Smith. Braiden Broussard later doubled in Washington, Chance Broussard and Davis to move the lead to 10-0.

Sweet Water added seven more runs in the top of the third. Jonah Smith singled in Lewis and Davis singled home Jonah Smith to make it 12-0. Washington and Broussard each scored on an error to move it to 14-0. Etheridge later tripled Davis and Reid Joiner to make it 16-0. Etheridge then scored on a passed ball to move it to 17-0.

After a Flynn Mabowitz single in the top of the fourth, Joiner hit an inside-the-park homer to move it to 19-0. Sweet Water moved the lead to 20-0 in the fifth when Sams scored on an error. Mendenhall doubled in Sasha Smith to make it 21-0. Mabowitz grounded to second to plate Washington and set the final margin.

Sweet Water (24-7) is set to host Sumiton Christian (24-7) in round two of the Class 1A baseball playoffs next Friday.

Demopolis rallies to force game three against Brewbaker Tech

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Hunter Thrash rips an RBI single to score the Tigers’ first run of game two against Brewbaker Tech.

Demopolis rallied from behind for a 5-2 game two victory over Brewbaker Tech to extend its season at least one more day. Demopolis overcame a 2-1 deficit with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth of the second game of its Class 5A first round playoff series. R.J. Cox stroked a triple that barely got over the head of the BT right fielder to plate Hunter Colyar and tie the game. Jonathan Lewis followed with a single to left to drive in Cox for the go-ahead run.

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Charles Casper gets a hit in game two against Brewbaker Tech.

“We finally got a break, which we had not gotten any breaks. Everything we hit was right at them. I don’t know how many double plays we rolled into, but I think they did take advantage of it,” Demopolis coach James Moody said. “We got a shutdown inning and they came in and there seemed to be a little more life about them. They had dominated us on the mound until that point. All that credit goes to them and the job their kid did on the mound in that game and then early in that second game.”

Demopolis added to the lead in the sixth when Hunter Thrash scored on an error to make it 4-2. Hunter Colyar then grounded to third to score Jake Malone for the 5-2 lead.

Andrew Patterson and Hudson Holley combined for four innings of scoreless relief work in which they scattered three hits. Patterson picked up the win while Holley notched the save.

“Patty has done that all year. Hudson has only thrown one time for the varsity against Hale County earlier,” Moody said. “They fell behind but they worked back and made them put the ball in play. They just gave us a chance and we ended up with a 10th grader out there on the hill.”

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Demetrius Davis is hit by a pitch during game two against Brewbaker Tech.

The Tigers got their first run of the game in the fourth inning when Hunter Thrash singled in Lewis.

Demopolis dropped game one 3-0 after an error-plagued seventh allowed Brewbaker Tech to score three runs on only two hits. The inning helped the Tigers to squander a strong outing form Colyar, who struck out eight over seven innings while allowing only four hits and three unearned runs. Demopolis tallied six hits in the contest but left nine runners on base.

“I told them, ‘Y’all have been here before. Play like you’ve been here before.’ Pretty much as our seniors go, we’re going to go,” Moody said of his encouragement to his seniors following game one.

James Shell got the win for Brewbaker Tech in game one, striking out 11 over seven shutout innings.

The teams match up in game three Saturday at noon.

“They call it Johnny Wholestaff. If they know where the mound is, they better be ready to go,” Moody said of the pitching approach to game three. “We’re going to have a couple guys that have thrown this year for us that are going to have a chance to eat some innings for us. And maybe we can score some early on and take some pressure off us on the hill. Game threes can be a battle of attrition sometimes. It’s one of those up-down, up-down and you’ve got to survive. But I think we’ve got enough pitching to give us a chance.”

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Chandler Barton gets his first hit of game one against Brewbaker Tech.

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Demetrius Davis rips a single during game one against Brewbaker Tech.

4-21-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Tiger starting pitcher Hunter Colyar fires a pitch to the plate during game one against Brewbaker Tech.

Demopolis softball rallies to beat Robertsdale

Demopolis put together a gutsy late-inning performance Friday to beat Robertsdale in its first tournament game in Hueytown.

Robertsdale took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and kept it until top of the sixth the Tigers rallied. Abbey Latham singled before Natalie Tatum reached on an error. Kendall Hannah followed with a double to drive in Latham and cut the deficit to 3-1. Bria Brown then singled home Alex Abrams and Hannah to tie the game.

Courtney Smith and Elly Brown each singled to open the seventh. Two batters later, Tatum hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the go-ahead run for the 4-3 lead.

Tatum retired the final eight batters she faced as part of a scoreless four and two-thirds of relief work for the win.

Demopolis (28-8) is set to face Tuscaloosa County, Oak Grove and Oxford Saturday beginning.

Hathcock drops interim tag, takes over Demopolis High School

Demopolis High School has a new principal following Friday’s called meeting of the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education. The board voted to remove the interim tag from Blaine Hathcock, promoting him to the DHS principal job after nearly five months filling in the role.

“There has been structure at the high school. It has been a relatively quiet winter and spring. Things are getting handled at the school level the way they should be handled. He has been very active instructionally,” Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said of Hathcock’s performance at DHS. “The teachers and the students at that school deserve consistency. They haven’t had consistency in about five years and Mr. Hathcock is brining that. I know that with Mr. Hathcock there and the teachers we have, we can get that high school back on track.”

“I don’t know that it is as much as what I’ve accomplished. I think it’s just giving some structure to what we were doing. I think, organizationally, we’ve made some things better that needed to be better. I think the biggest thing is just giving some vision for how we were going to get to where we need to get. The transition was smooth and I think a lot of the credit, to be honest with you, goes to those teachers over there. They’ve been through a lot of change. The biggest thing is that the teachers have made it easy,” Hathcock said of his time at the high school thus far. I think we were able to paint a vision of Demopolis High School in the first faculty meeting. Demopolis High School is bigger than one person. It’s bigger than the principal. Demopolis High School is a share responsibility. This senior class of kids was the first eighth grade group I had at the middle school. I know them all. I’ve had them all, for the most part.”

Hathcock first came to the Demopolis system from Haleyville in June 2012. Having previously served three years as an assistant principal, Hathcock helped stabilize the middle school, an institution that had seen three principals in three years prior to his arrival.

Hathcock moved to the high school post in December 2016 after the resignation of former principal Chris Tangle. Rollie McCall has served as interim principal of Demopolis Middle School since that time while Tracy Stewart has served as interim assistant principal at DMS.

In an adjoining move, the board approved the posting of the principal job at Demopolis Middle School.

“We’re going to advertise it for a month from the 24th of April through May 22. That’s four weeks,” Kallhoff said. “We’re always looking for an instructional leader. The middle school is in good shape. Mr. Hathcock is leaving it in good shape. We need to make sure we can find a principal that can take it where it is and keep on moving. Of course, we want someone with administrative experience. We hope to make a recommendation by, if not the end of May, definitely some time in early June to bring closure there also.”

Hathcock indicated that the decision to leave the middle school proved a difficult one.

“It’s the people in the school. That was difficult for me. It’s just because of how good they’ve been to me. Some of them have been there the whole time I’ve been there, some of them I hired after I got there. They’re a special group. You feel it when you walk on campus,” Hathcock said. “They care about those kids and they care about that school. You can’t deny that when you walk on campus. I can’t tell you how much that place means to me. When I went there five years ago, I said I wanted us to be the best middle school in Alabama. And they believed it.”

The move will also see Hathcock walk away from coaching after two decades of serving in various capacities as a football coach, basketball coach and athletic director.

“Sometimes you need a change. I think, sometimes, a change is good. You get new goals and you get new perspective on things. Even though I’m moving out of that realm, hopefully I can have an impact on not just one area, but a lot of areas,” he said, noting the high school’s array of offerings in athletics, fine arts, career tech and numerous fields. “My goal is to be in Demopolis. Our family is here. Our children are in schools here. At the high school, we have good people in place, but they need some consistency here and leadership. My goal is to be able to provide that. I think the expectation will be the same. We want to be the best. Period.”