Blake Talley choked back a tear, and not because of the outcome.
He wasn’t ready for this season to end, not ready to have to say goodbye to his first senior class as the Scottsboro head baseball coach.
“I’m proud of these seniors for setting the tone,” Talley said. “Since Day 1, they’ve bought in and given me everything they’ve had. Best group of seniors. I don’t know if any (group of seniors) could beat them. Great kids, great competitors. Some of the best Scottsboro’s ever had, no doubt. That’s what I’ll remember most about this team, these seniors.”
No. 10-ranked Scottsboro’s season ended Monday with a 7-6 loss to Madison Academy in Game 3 of the team’s Class 5A first-round best-of-three playoff series.
The Wildcats fell behind 7-2 before battling back. But some early errors in the field and failing to score after loading the bases with no outs proved too costly.
“We just made too many mistakes early. I think we handed (Madison Academy) every run they had. We gave them seven runs. You can’t do that against a good team, and in a playoff game,” Talley said. “But I’m proud of how our kids fought back, didn’t stop the whole game. Early in the year, that’s a game we quit on and lose big. They fought their tails off just to get us back in that game. We missed opportunities. But I’m proud of how they competed.”
Madison Academy (16-23), which faces Moody in a second-round series, got four runs the bottom of the first inning and three more in the second to build a 7-2 advantage.
Scottsboro, which got a lead-off home run from Reed Latimer and a run from Peyton Grant on a wild pitch in the first inning, left the bases loaded in the third inning before pulling within 7-6 with a four-run fourth inning. Ethan Clark singled to start the inning and Dalton Wood followed with a two-run homer to right field. Kyle Murphy, Latimer and Grant then singled to load the bases, and after a pitching change, Christian Herberholz and Ethan Wininger plated runs with RBI sacrifice flies. But the Wildcats stranded two more runners in the inning, then left the bases loaded in the fifth before leaving two runners on in the bottom of the seventh.
Latimer finished 3-for-5 at the plate for the Wildcats while fellow senior Grant was 2-for-3. Seniors Herberholz, Clark and Riley Bennett had one hit each — the Scottsboro senior class also included Grey Dixson — while Murphy and Wood had one hit apiece as well. Latimer pitched 6 1/3 innings in relief and closed with five strikeouts.
Scottsboro finished its season with a 17-10 and won the program’s first area championship since 2019. Talley said the season laid the groundwork for the program’s future.
“We came up short today, but this program has come a long way the last 10 months,” Talley said. “These kids have matured and grown up and became more disciplined as a team. We’ve still got a long way to go, because just making playoffs is not acceptable. I’ve already started thinking about next year, things we’ve got to do differently.”