Tigers and Bearcats meet again
Charles Prince, Sports Editor
Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn and Cullman-Hartselle all bring the same thing to mind. All three are special rivalries that scream intensity. Just listen to Cullman head baseball coach Brian Bowen.
"We enjoy this rivalry. It's pretty special," Bowen said. "It may be the most special rivalry in the whole state of Alabama."
Rivalries are born from success. Hartselle is a rival for every team in the state. Winning six state titles makes Hartselle the team every school wants to beat.
The Cullman-Hartselle rivalry has really matured in the past three seasons.
Cullman is making it's third straight trip to the state semi-finals, won a state title two years ago and made the finals last year.
Cullman advanced to the state championship with a two-game sweep of Hartselle last season. This rivalry may be at its peak right now, that's what makes this weekend's match up so anticipated.
Most people expected Cullman to make the semi-finals. They were ranked in the top three of the ASWA poll most of the season.
Hartselle however is another story.
"No one thought we would be in the semis," Hartselle cocah William Booth said. "We lost eight starters in the field and our two pitchers signed with Wallace. But this group of kids we have is great. They have been working their butts off in practice and it's showing in the way we are playing right now."
Booth expects his Tigers to have a stern test against the Bearcats.
"Cullman has a great team," Booth said. "They're the best team we've played all year."
Cullman coach Bowen feels Hartselle will be ready for the series.
"They're well coached," Bowen said. "They have great pitching. You know when you face Hartselle you have to play your best to have a chance."
What will be the key this weekend? Bowen feels his team has to hit better than they did in their regular season meetings with the Tigers.
"We've got to score some runs," Bowen said. "We really haven't put any pressure on them this year by scoring some runs and getting on top. We've got to do a better job at the plate, but you have to credit their pitching for the job they've done on us this year."
Bowen feels that Hartselle has an advantage by playing at home.
"We had the home field last year," Bowen said. "and I think it helped us out. So I think it's to their advantage that get us at their place this year."
How will things turn out this weekend? Which team will win and move on to Montgomery for the state finals starting May 12?
If you're a Tiger fan, get on the phone now and make hotel reservations. You've got some baseball to watch in Montgomery next week.