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Longtime Hartselle assistant baseball coach retires

By David Elwell

For the Enquirer

It’s been a couple weeks since the Class 6A state championship was decided in Montgomery with one of the strangest games imaginable.

The Hartselle Tigers had a dogpile celebration in the bottom of the seventh inning, thinking they had won the state championship. Faith Academy had a dogpile celebration at the end of the eighth inning and left Riverwalk Stadium with a state championship trophy.

Lost in the events of that day was the end of the coaching career for Hartselle assistant coach Jerry Childers, who is retiring effective June 1. Childers came to Hartselle from Brewer in 2000.

“One of my favorite stories to tell is, when I interviewed with Coach (William) Booth in 2000, he told me he had about three years left and wanted a coach who would keep the program going in the right direction,” Childers said. “Well, 21 years later, I was still an assistant coach.

“It’s been a good ride with him. He’s been like a second father.”

That good ride included state championships in 2009 and 2013.

“Jerry’s been a great asset for our baseball program,” Booth said. “He’s been there every day with a positive attitude ready to work to make our players better. We’re going to miss him. He’s a good one.”

Taking a state championship trophy back to Hartselle would have likely been a great way for Childers to close out his coaching career.

Booth: AHSAA needs replay

It looked like Hartselle had the game won when Peyton Steele tagged up at third and scored on JoJo Williamson’s fly ball to centerfield. Video of the play appears to confirm it.

Faith Academy appealed the play, claiming Steele left early. The third-base umpire agreed, and Steele was called out to end the inning.

Faith went on to score seven unanswered runs in the top of the eighth to win the game, the series and the state championship.

The replay shows Steele’s footwork at third: His heel on top of the bag and, as the catch was being made, he raised his heel, but the toe of his shoe stayed in contact with the base.

It appears the umpire was in position to see the heel lift but not the toe stay in contact with the front of the bag.

What umpires, coaches, players and fans all want is the right call. In this case, many have argued the right call could have been made by going to replay review; the AHSAA, however, does not use replay review in baseball.

After what happened to Hartselle, many are saying it’s time for replay review to be used at the state championship series. If every game is going to be broadcast, there should be a system set up for replay review – and Booth said he thinks what happened in Hartselle’s state championship will make replay review a reality.

“I’m all for it, and I think it’s going to happen,” Booth said. “I guess they are going to call it another Booth rule.”

Booth and his baseball program have been the reason for several baseball rule changes over the years by the AHSAA. Most of those rule changes probably didn’t please Booth, but this one might be different, especially if it had been in place this season

Covering the bases

• Hartselle pitcher Caleb Pittman confirmed on social media this past week he is committed to Auburn. Pittman’s announcement means Hartselle will have three senior pitchers next season signed to go to Auburn, the other two being Elliott Bray and William Turner.

• Former Lawrence County pitcher Ty Hutto and his Shelton State teammates begin play Saturday in the National Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. No. 9 seed Shelton State plays No. 2 seed Walters State out of Tennessee at 3 p.m. Hutto is a freshman.

• Wallace State softball started play Tuesday in the National Junior College National Championship in Yuma, Ariz. The Lions (53-4) have two local connections in sophomore infielder Kalli Cartee from Hartselle and sophomore catcher Madisen Adams from Brewer.

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