After making the sacrifice to take a step back for the good of the team, Mobile Christian senior Will Irwin finally got his moment.
Irwin pitched the final inning for the Leopards, holding off Randolph County for a 3-2 victory to claim the Class 2A state championship.
“We had a couple seniors that were role players that really accepted their role. A kid like Will Irwin who, here he is a senior, and halfway through the season we start designated hitting for him and take the bat out of his hands,” Mobile Christian coach Talley Haines said. “It would’ve been real easy for him to feel sorry for himself and lay down, but he wanted what was best for the team, and there he was out on the mound throwing the last pitch of the state championship for Mobile Christian.”
But before Irwin came in to get the save, it was another arm that helped the Leopards. Hunter Avery, the day after leading Mobile Christian to the Game 1 win on the mound, came in in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded to halt Randolph County’s run and hold on to a one-run lead.
Avery earned MVP honors for his performance, which also included six RBIs in Game 1.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I just tried to throw strikes and let my defense make it work and just get ground balls. It worked out,” Avery said. “I didn’t throw too many pitches last night, so it wasn’t too tough. My arm wasn’t 100 percent, but I definitely had enough to go out there and give it a shot.”
Haines said the Leopards came out tight in Game 2. It wasn’t until Grayson Williams’ two-run double with two outs in the first inning that Mobile Christian regained its poise.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch, and I got it on the first one,” Williams said. “It was a good feeling. I thought I was going to score one, but I got a two-run.”
Mobile Christian finished the year 30-12, which included a three-game series win against rival and two-time reigning Class 1A champion St. Luke’s in the second round. The Leopards won another three game series against G.W. Long the next round, which included a 20-3 loss in Game 2.
Mobile Christian is no stranger to adversity, and now it can become familiar with being champions.
“We played some tough talent throughout the playoffs, and had a couple of Game 3s that we had to pull out that were tough games,” Avery said. “But now that we got here, it feels great to get the win.”