Spanish Fort has arguably more momentum and team chemistry than any playoff team in the state. And even though the Toros (33-6) have found their stride this season, it's the uniqueness of a program pushing uncharted territory that is turning …
Spanish Fort has arguably more momentum and team chemistry than any playoff team in the state. And even though the Toros (33-6) have found their stride this season, it's the uniqueness of a program pushing uncharted territory that is turning heads.
“We have a very unique situation,” head coach Tommy Walker said in regards to the program’s youth. “We have every guy back from last year except for one kid who moved in (Logan Rodgers) and he has been a good fit for us.”
Because of the youth of the program, Walker's players had to find the meaning of team before they could find success.
“With the summer we’ve had over a year together and everyone has had a change to really get to know each other,” he said. “At the beginning of the season I realized we were ahead of the curve. Then we started winning games and it all built up from there to help us our 33-6 record.”
A teams youth doesn’t always equal inexperience, as the Toros ability to make on-the-fly adjustments from day to day contributed to a learning curve that see’s more change than Mike Mussina’s slider.
Spanish Fort is preparing for a three game series against Bibb County and, while whispers of a magical state title run are surrounding the program, Walker said his team is focused on the Choctaws.
“We have learned a lot this year,” Walker said. ‘After beating Gulf Shores we kind of started looking ahead and got swept in the double-header. That was a lesson learned for our guys. Right now we are focused on Bibb County. They are a good team with an old school coach like me. It’s going to be a tough series.’
Spanish Fort along with St. Pauls are the only Class 5A teams left representing southern Alabama in the state playoffs.
The Toros have become part of the baseball elite by battling out top teams for wins in several close games by any means necessary.
“What has been good for us is that we have been able to hit the ball down the lineup,” Walker said. “If we are struggling in the heart of our lineup — our 7, 8 and 9 guys are hitting RBI's and scoring runs. Someone else has always been there to pick us up.”
The Toros still don’t have a home stadium and play home games in Loxley, but Walker said it played an advantage in the series victory over Briarwood.
“The people of Loxley have been great in giving us a place to play right now,” he said. “There are times when there are other teams that have to have that field and we only have an hour and a half to practice, but we make it work. It makes going on the road to Briarwood seem like home.”
Despite the teams youth and almost forced learning curve, Walker said the playoff opening game in Demopolis was the first his team became unnerved.
“The guys weren't nervous about Fairhope, Daphne, Baldwin County or Gulf Shores and I think playing such tough teams all season helped the guys get over being nervous against Demopolis.”
Spanish Fort will look to continue its fearless run towards a state title and Walker said the magical season is in his players hands.
“Once Friday night rolls around it’s all about the kids and what they do.”