Finding a way to win is something a team always strives for. Whether it’s up by 10 or down by 10, a team never wants to lose that competitive edge.
Dadeville’s baseball team proved it could always find a way to win — or at least stay in the game — and that was thanks in large part to its senior class.
“They really worked hard and they battled through adversity,” Dadeville coach Curtis Martin said. “We were never really out of any games. Even if we were down by five runs or down in the seventh inning, when they had their backs up against the wall, they would battle and stay in the ballgame or win the ballgame.”
The majority of the Tigers’ seven seniors were multi-sport athletes and that likely contributed to their competitiveness.
Cooper Childers was a longtime starter for the baseball team and football team and Martin often said he believed Childers was one of the best center fielders in the state, regardless of classification.
“He will definitely be missed,” Martin said. “He was a hard worker and he had a relentless attitude. Just about anything I asked him to do, he was 110% about it. He was a great hitter for us and he was just a great all-around athlete.”
Another regular starter for both the baseball and football teams, Alex Sims, also known as “Mr. Scrappy,” was never afraid to get in on the action. After practically every game, Sims’ uniform was covered in dirt from head to toe as he frequently dove after balls or bases. Sims took over the starting shortstop position this year and he was a key leader in the field.
“He was not afraid to get his hands dirty,” Martin said. “He always had a motor on him, and he was always reliable in the field. He was very versatile and somebody I’m definitely going to miss. He was not afraid to get dirty and as a baseball coach, you love that.”
One of the most improved this year was Alex Walker, who started at third base this year. The reason for that was simply his dedication in the offseason when he put in a ton of extra work, despite still getting ready for the football season.
Walker’s bright spot was the Tigers’ final game against Prattville Christian when he threw all nine innings and llowed only two runs.
“Alex was one of those guys that wasn’t very vocal but he led by example,” Martin said. “His work ethic to me is something that I really, really noticed with him. He’s going to go that extra mile and he’s not afraid to push himself to make himself better.”
Much like Walker, Ty Bell was also a lead-by-example kind of guy. In the outfield, Bell didn’t always say much but he always tried to get better.
“His passion and motivation to get better is one thing I’m going to miss with him,” Martin said. “There were some days or some weeks where he didn’t have the best week, but he felt it in himself to go in there on days we didn’t practice or the weekends to stay in the game and get better.”
After hitting a grand slam against Holtville, Cameron Tidwell’s offense took off and he showed serious improvement from his junior to senior seasons. He also showed some much-needed leadership to the younger players.
“After that grand slam, heck, it set him off,” Martin said. “During area play, Cameron was huge for us at the plate this year. He was also one of our vocal leaders. He took in some of my younger guys and sort of acted as a senior leader for them.”
Much like Tidwell, Kade Harkins also had quite a bit of improvement this year. He also had the drive to get better as he took over the second base position.
“He’s definitely somebody I’m going to miss as far as being a leader,” Martin said. “His work ethic was phenomenal and he made some big plays in the field and at the plate for us. He wanted to get better and he would do anything that he could to get better, and it really showed.”
Max McClendon rounded out the senior class for Dadeville and he was a two-year starter at first base. Because he was an offensive lineman for the football team, McClendon showed a ton of encouragement for his teammates and reveled in their success just as much as his own.
“One thing I loved about Max is he played with passion,” Martin said. “When the team was doing good, it didn’t matter if he was involved in the play or not, it pumped him up. He was a total team player. When big plays were made, I could see him in the dugout and he was up and hollering.”
Dadeville’s senior class expected big things this season. After being upset in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Tigers were hungrier than ever for a long postseason run. But Martin is hopeful the work ethic and passion they showed will carry onto the younger player for years to come.
“They had a trickle down effect on the rest of the players,” Martin said. “They showed how to battle through adversity, and that is going to leave a lasting legacy.”