Bears meet Bison on bigger stage than before


Woodlawn’s 6-5 baseball win over Carlisle on April 9 turned out to be a sneak preview for today’s Class 2A state championship game. But Woodlawn coach Tommy Richardson doesn’t expect the main attraction to play out anything like the trailer.

Richardson admitted neither team was in total focus in the lone meeting of the season where the Bears (32-5) outlasted the Bison (29-6) in a thrilling affair that ended with a walk-off single by Woodlawn’s Daniel Rissinger. Richardson threw neither of his aces on the table in Trey Hankins (6-1) and Gavin Johnston (9-2) while Carlisle coach B.J. Greene was missing his star performer, Trey Wilson (9-1), due to illness.

“It’s pretty simple,” Richardson said. “We didn’t see their best and they didn’t see our best. We expect this to be a completely different game than before.”

Greene is in his fifth season, and the Bison are attempting to capture a baseball state title for the first time in school history after turning around a program that was 12-19 just three years ago. Richardson is seeking his third title in the past five years and is making his fifth title-game appearance in the last six.

“Our kids are looking forward to this challenge,” Greene said. “This is a testament to Coach Richardson and the Woodlawn baseball program. They have played at Baum Stadium. All their kids have been there. I just hope we don’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

Wilson will toe the rubber for Carlisle. He is also the Bison’s leading hitter with a .464 batting average and 48 RBIs. Richardson said his starter is still undecided and will be a game-day decision but does plan to use both Hankins and Johnston.

“Those two have teamed up to pitch all our big games,” Richardson said. “We are going about this just like any other game. We are not going to change anything now. Those guys have gotten us here and they will both see time on the mound.”

Dillon Miller leads the Bears with a .459 average, followed by Jacob Richardson (.453) and Johnston (.421). Hankins’ .389 is just shy of the .400 club for an offensive squad that hits .349 as a team. Hankins is the catalyst in the leadoff spot after Richardson moved him from clean-up to leadoff during the regular season.

“We didn’t have a leadoff hitter,” Richardson said. “We had about three three-hole hitters but no leadoff so I had to find somebody and Hankins has done a tremendous job in that role.”

Richardson also pointed to the bottom of the Bears’ lineup as a key factor to scoring runs, specifically Blake Brown, who hits .321 out of the ninth spot. Richardson said Woodlawn has the ability to score runs, but when the bottom of the lineup gets involved, the Bears score in multiples.

“When Blake gets on in front of the top of our lineup, we can put up some crooked numbers,” Richardson said. “He was our No. 9 guy last year and I thought about moving him up. But he does such a great job there and he doesn’t clog up the bases for the top of the order.”

Projected Starting Lineups

Woodlawn

4-Trey Hankins, 2B

3-Jacob Richardson, SS

11-Dillon Miller, DH

17-Gavin Johnston, P

5-Daniel Rissinger, 1B

6-Colton Williams, C

15-Bret Boyd, RF

9-Ryan Dorsett, LF

22-Blake Brown, CF

7-Stephen Allbright, 3B

Carlisle

2-Chris Hart, SS

5-Tommy Inman, CF

9-Trey Wilson, P

1-Derric Herring, C

22-Deron Ricks, RF

11-Josh Mathis, 1B

21-Dylan Brazeal, DH

10-Austin Reed, 2B

12-Hayden Hoover, LF

15-Will Smith, 3B