There is a buzz around Jefferson County.
As if being crosstown rivals wasn’t enough, White Hall’s and Watson Chapel’s baseball teams are taking things to an entirely different level with a showdown in Fayetteville for the Class 5A championship.
Walk in any store, church or school and you will overhear a various assundry of topics, from politics to potholes. Listen long enough and you will hear talk of a Cat and Dog fight at Baum Stadium.
Everyone, including myself, has an opinion on what’s going to transpire under the lights tonight. And after multiple conversations with people in the know, this is the biggest game ever to be played between two Jefferson County programs — in any sport. Ever.
Both of these teams have proven themselves worthy of this epic affair. Both teams are capable of winning, not just creating bragging rights for a year, but forever. Results of this game will provide folklore tales for generations to come. Your children’s children will hear stories of this. Yes, this is truly one for the ages.
The two teams entered the playoffs on totally different wavelengths. Watson Chapel was flying high and playing at the top of its game. White Hall brought a five-game losing streak to the table. But as the old saying goes, it’s not how your start, it’s how you finish.
So looking at the matchup, I think the Wildcats have a slight advantage over the Dogs. Zach Bradford has been stellar on the mound this year and has yet to take a loss. Bradford is as good a pitcher as I have seen this year and I look for him to continue that trend tonight.
Tyler Zuber will get the nod for the Bulldogs. Zuber has been equally effective and is a top-notch pitcher capable of winning any and every game he starts. But I give Bradford a slight advantage in the pitching category.
I also give Chapel the offensive advantage. The Cats have an explosive line-up capable of putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard at any time. White Hall proved it can score in bunches as well as it put up a 12-spot against Nettleton in the second round of the playoffs. But the Cats seem to do it more consistently.
Defensively, it’s a wash. Both teams are solid around the horn on the infield and play solid outfield. I don’t expect error-free ball but would not bet on more than one per team.
The X-factor could be Kirk Baugh. Baugh has just recently been called up to play varsity as a freshman, something White Hall coach Skip Carr has shied away from during his coaching career. But Baugh came through in Monticello with a grand slam and four RBIs in the second round and a two-run double to start the scoring in the rout over Nettleton. If White Hall does pull it out, it may be due to Baugh’s presence in the line-up. He did not play in either of White Hall’s two losses at Chapel this year.
It’s the one facet of the game Chapel has not experienced.
Chan Davis is a sports writer for The Commercial. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.