• 48°

Opp readies for UMS-Wright

Opp has a tough task ahead of them, but Bobcats coach Michael Cassady said his team is ready to play UMS-Wright in Mobile in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs on Friday.

“They’ve got to earn our respect,” Cassady said. “They’ve got a good team, but also I feel like I don’t want to short change our kids. We’ve got a good team. We’ve got to play good defense, throw strikes and continue to hit the baseball.”

UMS-Wright shut down Brewbaker Tech last week in the first round, winning both games 10-0.

The Bobcats faced Jackson and forced a game three on Saturday, where they advanced to the second round with a 10-9 win over the Aggies at home.

UMS-Wright’s two best players — Chase Williamson and Evan Grovenstein — are pitchers that have experience in the playoffs.

Williamson is 8-1 on the mound and has a 1.4 ERA with 70 strikeouts, while Grovenstein is 9-0 on the mound and has a 1.81 ERA with 61 strikeouts.

“UMS has got a great program,” Cassady said. “(UMS-Wright head baseball) Coach (Brett) Boutwell does an excellent job with his program. They’ve got a pitching coach that’s coached at South Alabama in Mobile. You could tell with his pitchers that they basically pitch like college pitchers. They locate well and come in and out.”

On the other hand, one of Opp’s main strengths is hitting and choosing pitches behind the plate.

In their series against Jackson, the Bobcats (24-5) only struck out three times in 21 innings.

“I know it’s going to be a tough series,” Boutwell said. “Coach Cassady has done a great job down there in his first year back. He’s done a great job with their senior-laiden team. I know it’s going to be a battle down here.”

The second round will be a best-out-of-three games series in Mobile at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. A game three will take place on Saturday at noon, if necessary.

In the last 22 games, UMS-Wright (25-6) has won 21 games. Its only loss in the last 22 games came to Jackson in a three-game area series earlier this season.

Boutwell said that he probably will throw Williamson in game one and Grovenstein in game two.

“I’m sure they’ll throw the (Gavin) Free and (Britt) Wilson kids on Friday, and we’ll try and match our up with Williamson and Grovenstein,” he said.

If there is anything both coaches said they want their teams to do well this weekend that would be to play “good defense.”

“Last weekend, I think we had two errors in three games,” Cassady said. “We turned three to four double plays.”

Cassady added that he had talked to Jackson coach Jason Jones earlier this week and said Jones asked him if they have played that well all season.

“I said, ‘at times coach we have played that well’,” Cassady said. “(Jones) told me that we play lights out defense.”

Boutwell agreed with the way Opp plays defense.

“They play good defense as well,” he said. “You can tell they’re a hungry team. You can tell they’ve set the goal like we all have. You can tell that they are very well coached and they play with the passion of the coach.”