Prep Roundup: Cullman Avenges Loss To Russell County

We have an extra hour of daylight now and the weather is getting warmer, which means seasons are getting underway further and further north. Here’s a couple quick tidbits from the last week of action:

• Cullman (Ala.) High and Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) first matched up on Feb. 23 with Russell County winning 7-5. They didn’t catch each other in the LaGrange Invitational, but were back at it on March 9. Cullman prevailed this time by the score of 9-2. Righthander Keegan Thompson pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out eight. His only blemish came off the bat of outfielder Anfernee Grier, who hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Thompson would get redemption though, striking Grier out in his next two at-bats.

• The International Paper Classic was held in Georgetown, S.C. this past weekend and featured the Palmetto State’s top team in Lexington High. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a showdown between Lexington catcher Nick Ciuffo and Mauldin (S.C.) High righthander Cory Thompson. Lexington won its first two games before falling to Conway (S.C.) High. Senior shortstop/righthander Jordan Gore went seven innings for Conway, striking out nine while allowing one run on seven hits and a walk. A South Carolina recruit, he was reportedly 90-93 mph and showed command of two secondary pitches. Conway’s Grant Holmes, a top righthander for 2014, was reportedly 92-95 the day before.

Lexington rebounded after the loss and now stands at 4-1. They will travel north for the National High School Invitational at the end of the month. Conway eventually fell in the IP Classic championship to A.C. Flora High (Columbia, S.C.).

• Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.) slipped in its first game of the season, but bounced back in its next two games. Junior lefthander Mac Marshall and senior righthander Sam McCoy combined to throw a no-hitter against Atlanta’s Marist School. Marshall went 5 1/3 innings and struck out five while walking three. McCoy finished the game and struck out three as the Panthers won 5-0.

• Johns Creek (Ga.) High is on the Top 25 radar after a strong start to the season. The Gladiators had some sleeper buzz before the season and are currently 4-2. Their best win so far came against Loganville. Johns Creek put up five runs in the first inning on the way to a 10-3 victory over the Red Devils. They were also the first team this season to hold Loganville outfielder Clint Frazier to no extra-base hits.

• The level of competition at the NHSI is reason enough to be excited, but the anticipation of seeing The Woodlands (Texas) High in action continues to grow as sophomore Chris Andritsos adds to his legend. He’s done plenty of damage with the bat already this season, but he’s a two-way threat and mowed down opposing hitters in his most recent start. He only went three innings but struck out all nine batters he faced on 36 pitches, 28 of which were strikes.

Looking Ahead

• The first in-season Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25 comes out tomorrow and will see a couple new teams in the rankings.

• Conor Glassey and I will be on the road for the next two days as the highly anticipated matchup of Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) vs. Loganville is on Tuesday, March 12. There should be a ton of scouts on hand to see the top two position players in the country—outfielders Austin Meadows and Clint Fraizer—on one field. Follow us on Twitter (@nathanrode and @conorglassey) for updates. High school and draft questions are welcome too, as we have at least five hours in the car to kill.

• There will be another Top 25 showdown in Georgia on Friday when Grayson travels to Parkview for the first of two meetings.

• Elk Grove (Calif.) High is a potential Top 25 team and will have a good test on March 16 against Campolindo High (Moraga, Calif.), the No. 2 team in the Preseason Top 25.

• March 16 also features a prospect showdown with catcher Tyler Alamo of Cypress (Calif.) High taking on outfielder Dane McFarland of JSerra High (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) in a doubleheader.