Central-Phenix City Climbs to No. 1 in National Baseball Polls

The Central-Phenix City Red Devils have achieved an unparalleled level of success on the baseball diamond, attaining the No. 1 national ranking from both Baseball America and MaxPreps. This recognition underscores a season of unparalleled excellence and steadfast determination.

Under the guidance of Coach A.J. Kehoe, the Red Devils have made history with their first Class 7A state championship victory in 2022 and a subsequent return to the state finals in 2023. Maintaining a remarkable season record of 28-1, the Devils have been powering through a 19-game winning streak.

Kehoe’s notable career record boasts 646 wins against 248 losses. He attributes the team’s achievements to their solid work ethic and the players’ unwavering commitment to the team. “It’s about their character,” says Kehoe, praising his team’s coachability and strong belief in one another and the program’s coaching efforts.

Central exhibited its dominance with resounding victories over Opelika, notably concluding the Class 7A, Area 4 series with scores of 15-2 and 4-0, and a closer third non-area game at 3-2. This success was complemented by a robust 19th consecutive win secured against Troup County (GA). Pitchers Hunter Wippert and Cameron Norton contributed immensely in the two contests, both maintaining their flawless 7-0 records.

Standout players Sam Brown and Chris Kelly delivered impressive performances at bat, with Brown achieving a two-home-run and five-RBI game, and Kelly slugged two-home runs and three RBIs in the second game. Furthermore, Briggs Cameron contributed significantly with a two-for-three effort, driving in three runs against Troup.

Area 4 baseball competition remains fierce as Central contends with formidable foes Smiths Station and Auburn. Coach Kehoe praises first baseman Landon Beaver for exemplifying vital leadership that galvanizes the team. Beaver, who epitomizes precision and quality, has earned the respect and attention of his teammates with his inherent leadership qualities.

According to Beaver, the Red Devils’ strength lies in their camaraderie and accountability towards one another.

With the regular season drawing to a close, Alabama high school baseball teams in Classes 1A through 6A are gearing up for playoffs next week. Meanwhile, Class 7A squads, including the top-ranked Red Devils, will wrap up regular-season play and prepare for the playoffs in the subsequent week.

Cover Photo: Central first baseman Hunter Wippert makes a catch at the 2023 Class 7A State Finals. (AHSAA FILE PHOTO)

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