ARITON, Ala. (WDHN) — After taking down its in county rival and the defending state champions the Ariton baseball team is onto the state championship for the first time in 25 years.
Now the Purple Cats’ focus shifts to a chance at the first blue map in program history.
“We always battle,” Ariton senior Landon Tyler said. “We always say we always battle, it’s never, never over. It ain’t no better feeling. Ain’t no better feeling.”
After two straight years of losing to G.W. Long in the state semifinals the Purple Cats are onto the state title series.
“They’ve got us the last two years, but we come in, we bought in,” Tyler said. “We said it ain’t gonna happen again.”
The teams split the first two games of the series, just like in years past, but this time around it was Ariton prevailing in game three 14-8 to win the series two games to one.
“They left the door open for us last night and that’s the one thing I told him before we came over here,” Ariton Head Coach Bob Pickett said. “I know what’s happened the last two years. I said we’ve got to go kick the door down today.”
Taking down the Rebels, who have 17 state titles, lifts Ariton to its third ever state title series appearance.
The Purple Cats lost in the championship in 1990 and 1998.
This year they hope for a different outcome over the Vincent Yellow Jackets.
“It would mean the world to us,” Tyler said “This bunch has been through a lot our whole lives, but to win the state championship that would be awesome. That would be great.”
The Purple Cats hope to carry this momentum into next week’s championship series.
“We’ve been looking for this moment since we started baseball,” Tyler said. “We’ve just got to keep coming out and playing our ball.”
First year head coach Pickett says ahead of the big game fundamentals are the focus.
“First we’ll work on ourselves like we do all the time,” Pickett said. “We’ll get back to work: ground balls, fly balls, working on hitting.
Ariton will face Vincent for a shot at its first state baseball title on Monday evening at 7 p.m. in Oxford.
Game two and the if necessary game are on Tuesday.