Tampa Bay trip provides competition, builds chemistry for RHS baseball team
FCT Sports Editor
If the Russellville varsity baseball team has to travel for a playoff series later this spring, the road-tested Golden Tigers will be in familiar territory after playing a majority of the first half of their schedule at various fields across northwest Alabama and southern Florida.
The RHS baseball field will be undergoing a makeover for the next several months. Last summer demolition work was completed to make way for a grandstand that should be finished by this October, and the backstop was removed to increase its height.
"We're putting in a new grandstand, and this will make the baseball field as nice as the other facilities here," said Russellville baseball coach David Ward. "We began work on that two weeks ago, and funding came from money earmarked for capital improvements around the school. It's a seven-month project, and we'll be able to seat between 1200 and 1500 people when it's completed.
"Hopefully they will put up the backstop by next Tuesday, which is our first home game this season. We raised the backstop concrete to 10 feet and we'll have four feet of netting at the top. The playing surface of the field is fine, so we'll be playing all of our home games there."
The sixth-ranked Golden Tigers, the 5A semifinalists last season, will play Florence and West Limestone in a non-region doubleheader tomorrow at Florence High School despite returning today from a six-day trip to Tampa Bay for a spring training tournament.
Russellville has now won 18 games this season thanks to a 6-2 run through the tournament against teams from Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New York and Florida. The Golden Tigers' B-team also had a chance to play against teams from across the country, and they finished 3-2.
"We went to the Disney spring training last year but we ended up in the Tampa Bay tournament this year, and this one probably had a better level of competition for us," Ward said. "We took this trip to get closer as a team, and the players have really pulled together and everybody is working hard.
"We've also had a chance to play a lot of games – we've played eight games in four days and 10 games in the last six days – and we were able to enjoy some time off and visit the beach and Busch Gardens."
Russellville, the defending area champions, will play at Decatur Monday in its area opener, and the Golden Tigers host the Red Raiders Tuesday at 4 p.m. Their next area game will be against Athens Monday, March 31 at 4:30 p.m.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.