For the second year in a row, the White Hall Bulldogs (17-5, 11-3 in 5A-South) will open the state tournament against Beebe. Coach Skip Carr is hoping to have the same type of success they had last year.
“I don’t know much about Beebe, but I do know they have some pitching and their defense is pretty solid,” Carr said. “From what I remember from last year, they can put the ball in play.
“I do know they have their two top pitchers back.”
White Hall defeated Watson Chapel in extra innings in the 5A state championship last season. Carr believes a repeat trip to the title game is possible.
“I like our chances,” Carr said. “We have a good group of guys and we have worked hard all year.
“They seemed to be focused and determined to make another run.”
White Hall will face Beebe at 2:30 p.m. at Nettleton High School in Jonesboro. Scheduled to start for White Hall is senior Tyler Zuber.
“He has good experience and he has a good fastball,” Carr said. “He hits his spots well and has been in big games before.”
On the year, Zuber is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.85. Last year, he pitched against Greenwood in the second round of the tournament and won. He also started the state championship game but earned a no-decision.
White Hall finished second in the conference after falling to Magnolia on Tuesday.
“At the first of the year, I would have taken second,” Carr said. “But after we started, I was expecting to win the conference.
“But we do play in a very good conference.”
Although their averages were not known at the time, Carr estimated that Landon Reed, Tyler Zuber and Austin Lewis lead the Bulldogs at the plate.
“(Repeating as champs) is going to take a little luck,” Carr said. “We are going to have make plays, throw strikes and get a few breaks.”
White Hall lost a good chunk of its championship team.
“I think we got some quality guys to replace them, but we did have to fill up quite a few spots,” Carr said.
White Hall has some tournament experience, winning the 2013 Billy Bock Tournament.
“They guys that are seniors have played in some big tournaments,” Carr said. “We hope it has prepared them for this.”
Woodlawn has tough road ahead
Woodlawn (19-10, 7-1 in 7-2A East) has a difficult task today when it faces No. 1 seed Conway St. Joseph in the first round of the 2A state tournament.
Trying to repeat as state champion, Woodlawn will have to knock off a program that won its conference, its district and regional tournaments.
“They are a really good baseball team,” Woodlawn head coach Tommy Richardson said. “Their pitching is really good. We look for them to be a good team.
“They are real solid from what I have on them so far.”
Conway St. Joseph was eliminated in the first round of the state tournament last year.
Woodlawn senior Bret Boyd will get the start on the mound today.
“He has a good fastball, curveball and change-up,” Richardson said. “He keeps people off-balance and when he is on with his curveball, he does a good job.”
Boyd has tournament experience, pitching a complete-game in a win over Walnut Ridge.
“He has the experience and has been there before,” Richardson said. “I look for him to do it again.”
Richardson said one good thing about playing a No. 1 seed is that if you win, you get its draw for the tournament.
“We just want to play baseball and play fundamental baseball,” Richardson said. “I think if we do that we will be fine.”
Richardson also said the biggest difference between last year and this year has been the Bears’ consistency at the plate.
“We will play really well one day and then bad the next,” Richardson said. “We have been up and down all year with the bat.
“Our pitching and defense is pretty solid, but our bats are up and down.”
Woodlawn finished as conference champion this year and was also second in the district tournament and fourth in the regional.
“We need baserunners,” Richardson said. “If we don’t swing it well and can’t be aggressive on the bags, it limits us.
“We have to be more consistent with the bat.”
Junior Jacob Richardson leads Woodlawn at the plate, batting about .480.
“He is having a great year and he has been really hot lately,” Tommy Richardson said. “He is pitching well now, too. He pitched well in both the regional and district tournament.”
Jacob Richardson was a starter for last year’s championship team.
Woodlawn will face St. Joseph today at noon at Parkers Chapel High School.