Hounds open playoffs at home; Rams head to Glenbrook

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

FERRIDAY, La. &045; When the Huntington Hounds lost in the 2000 South State championship series, it marked the end for nine seniors on the club.

And head coach Mitch Ashmore knew some glory days went with them.

That year marked the final run of a number of playoff appearances for the Hounds, which included a trip to the state championship in 1992 in Ashmore’s first year, a state title in 1994 and another state championship appearance in 1998.

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There’s been a drought since that 2000 season, but the dry run ends today when the Hounds host Central Academy of Macon in the first round of the Class A playoffs. Game 1 of the best-of-three series will start at 7 p.m. at Huntington.

&uot;This is the first playoff experience for all of our kids,&uot; said Ashmore, now in his 13th year. &uot;We were very, very good at winning district championships and doing things like getting into the playoffs. From 2000 on, we’ve been kind of young and we’ve kind of built it back up since then. We always felt like we would play a couple of rounds (in the playoffs), but the last few years have been dry.&uot;

This spring it’s been different for the Hounds, who put the wraps on a district championship Friday night with a win over Franklin Academy. The Hounds (16-5) avenged that earlier loss to the Cougars at home to get the title after Franklin lost earlier to River Oaks to finish the regular season with two district losses.

But it goes much deeper than that one game for the Hounds. The season has been a welcomed turnaround from seasons past perhaps the quietest of ways &045; with pitching, defense and enough timely hits to stay ahead on the scoreboard.

&uot;I think the big difference is that they all want to play and they all understand their role,&uot; Ashmore said. &uot;They all want to do whatever it takes to win. They realize what their talents are. They don’t try to do anything more than they can, and they all understand we play a team-type deal. I take the bat out of their hands sometimes, but they realize that.&uot;

It’s been pitching and defense that’s kept the Hounds in most ball games, although their hitting has picked up some here at the end of the season. Chad Thomas had the bloop single to right Friday night to drive in Richard Steele and Jacob Bonnette for the 3-2 lead.

The Hounds struggled in the win over Tensas but battled to an eight-inning victory when Trey Keith singled in Thomas for the game-winner.

Hitting could be a concern for Ashmore and the Hounds with this week’s series. The pitching and defense has been solid, and Bonnette is scheduled to get the start today in Game 1 after left-hander Trey Brasher went the distance Friday against Franklin.

Keith will be available in relief if need be, Ashmore said. The senior has recovered from an infection and is ready to go.

&uot;I didn’t want to bring Brasher back after pitching Friday,&uot; Ashmore said. &uot;Jacob has been a good pitcher for us, and he’s done well in big games. I have full confidence in Jacob to do the job, or he would not be in there.&uot;

WCCA at Glenbrook

WOODVILLE &045; The Rams will play at Glenbrook at 4 p.m. today in the series opener and come back home Friday for Game 2 at 5 p.m. with a Game 3 to follow if necessary.

The format will give each team a chance to use their No. 1 starter today and come back in Game 2 on Friday or in Game 3. In the Rams’ case, that would be an ideal situation with Collin Dor.

&uot;We’ve played a lot better the last few games defensively,&uot; WCCA head coach Ray Olive said. &uot;If we put the ball in play and try to put pressure on them, that’s what I’m planning on doing. I’m confident in our pitching, and we’ve been hitting real well. Last year we were just glad to be in the playoffs because they hadn’t been in so long, and this year we expected to get in. We’re hoping to improve on what we did last year.&uot;