G.W. Long back in Class 2A State Championship Series
SKIPPERVILLE, Ala. (WTVY) - When it comes to G.W. Long baseball, state championships are just expected.
“I don’t really see the reason in setting a goal smaller than what the ultimate prize would be,” said head coach Drew Miller.
“Once you have that feeling, that’s all you care about,” said senior Carson Dunlap. “You don’t care about anything else, just winning that final game.”
The Rebels have a chance to win the program’s fourth straight state title and an AHSAA leading 17th overall in the Class 2A state championship series beginning on Monday against Westbrook Christian.
“We’re very familiar with Westbrook Christian,” said Miller. “I’ve known Matt Kennedy a long time. He’s a friend. He does an unbelievable job with the kids that he has. We’re definitely looking at probably the toughest series we’ve had.”
For senior Carson Dunlap, the road to a potential third state championship has been far from easy.
The Rebels struggled out of the gate before finding a rhythm in the back half of the season.
“This year we really had to work our tails off to get here,” said Dunlap. “We had a rough go at the beginning, but we turned things around. It means a lot that we’ve worked so hard to get here.”
Some of the players calling the losses in the regular season to area foe Ariton the turning point for the team.
‘If we wouldn’t have got beat by Ariton, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said junior Jackson Chancey. “We’ve come a long way since then.”
“For this team, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to us,” said Miller. “That made us kind of have a check on a few things. Almost like a come to Jesus meeting to figure some things out.”
Long was able to get a measure of revenge, taking down the Purple Cats in the semifinals, catapulting them into the state finals.
“This team needed to be tested every week,” said Miller. “We felt like that was one of the advantages going into that series that we were very tested through the first round all the way into the semifinal.”
Now in a familiar spot, the Rebels have a ton of confidence heading into Monday.
“We really had something to prove which beating Ariton didn’t really prove it,” said Dunlap. “That’s not the final prize, but it gave us a confidence boost a lot because they did beat us so bad in the regular season.”
Miller, who has been apart of eight of Long’s previous 16 titles as either a player or coach, knows just how special bringing home number 17 would be.
“We just feel so lucky to be in this situation,” said Miller. “To be able to play ball late in May is unbelievable and if we play well and we’re able to bring this community back a state championship, that would be extra special.”
Game one of best-of-three game championship series between the Rebels and the Warriors is set for Monday at Patterson Field in Montgomery. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m.
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