Despite starting the season with just three wins in its first 11 games, the Tallassee baseball team had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win against Brewbaker Tech in the final home game of the season. However, the Tigers fell short as Valley took the final spot in the postseason and Tallassee missed out on the playoffs for the first time in five years.
“Obviously winning the area and making the playoffs are our goals every year,” Tallassee coach Adam Clayton said. “To not achieve that this year, I feel our returning guys will be hungry to get stronger and better this offseason.”
Tallassee grabbed a win in its season finale at Marbury to finish the year with a 10-14 record. The Tigers split all three of their area series and lost the two tiebreakers they played.
Early in the season, Tallassee struggled to find some success on offense. During their first 11 games, the Tigers were held to one run or less in eight games.
“All of our guys made huge strides offensively,” Clayton said. “We struggled early at the plate and finished with several guys in the .300s so that was one of our biggest improvements.”
Clayton’s team had several upperclassmen step up to fill those spots to give the Tigers success later in the season. Seniors Beau Baker and Jackson Gantt took charge of the pitching staff as the top two starters for Tallassee.
Baker and Gantt also took the top two spots in the batting order. Tallassee had nine seniors on its roster this season with six of them as regulars in the starting lineup.
“This group of seniors worked extremely hard on and off the field,” Clayton said. “Many of them have 4.0 GPAs and will be very successful in whatever they do in life.”
Tallassee got some help from its limited bench throughout the season. Juniors Will Blocker and Bruin Hathcock helped lead the heart of the order in their first season on varsity while the Tigers started first-year players Bobby Baker and Jacob Dantro in the outfield by the end of the season.
“We had some injuries and spots to fill early on with inexperienced players at the varsity level but those guys got good experience this year that will benefit us in the future,” Clayton said.
The lack of depth after early injuries was clear plus Tallassee jumping up a classification did not help. While there may be some stronger teams in Class 5A, Clayton said he does not feel like it had any effect on Tallassee’s results this season.
“Classification really doesn’t make a huge difference in baseball,” Clayton said. “It usually comes down to your pitching staff depth as to who is dominant and who is not in any classification.”
Tallassee will return to the same area next season as it looks to return to the winning ways to fulfill the expectations the program has built over the last four decades. The Tigers have not gone more than two seasons without an area title since 2005.