Tuscaloosa Academy trio leads All-State baseball team

Austin Menard went 10-0 in 14 pitching appearances for Tuscaloosa Academy. He had 55 strikeouts and two shutouts, including a two-hit shutout in the semifinals. (Photo by Dusty Compton | Tuscaloosa News)

TUSCALOOSA | Three members of the Tuscaloosa Academy baseball team earned first-team All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

Senior Kyle Andrews, a pitcher and third baseman, was chosen as a utility player. Senior Taylor White made the team as a second baseman. Austin Menard, a junior right-hander, was selected as a pitcher.

Tuscaloosa Academy, a team with seven seniors, went 38-7 and won the AISA Class AAA championship by winning two of three games against Lee-Scott Academy.

Tuscaloosa Academy, coached by Patrick Jones, posted the second-highest win total in school history, put together a 21-game winning streak in the regular season and claimed the school's first baseball crown in 14 years.

Tuscaloosa Academy was the runner-up to Pike Liberal Arts last season. The Knights had a 10-1 lead in the third game but wound up losing 15-10.

"Having so many players returning off that team from last year, it was really, really sweet at the end," Jones said. "The guys did a really good job of coming together, and they really bought in and wanted to make amends for that last year. I was really happy for them, especially the seven seniors."

In this year's championship series, Menard pitched a career-high eight innings, and the Knights won the opener 2-1. White singled with two outs to drive in Parker Farley with the winning run. Andrews had an RBI single in the third inning.

Lee-Scott Academy won the second game 5-2, but the Knights clinched the title with an 8-2 victory. Andrews pitched a complete game, and White had a two-run double.

Andrews, White and Menard made the all-tournament team.

Andrews hit .450 for the season with 37 RBIs and 44 runs scored and had a 7-2 pitching record.

"He actually won a Game 3 in the quarterfinal round and in the final round," Jones said. "He only gave up three earned runs in like 13 innings pitched. You can't really ask for more."

Menard went 10-0 in 14 pitching appearances. He had 55 strikeouts and two shutouts, including a two-hit shutout in the semifinals.

"He's a guy that knows how to locate, and he believes in his stuff," Jones said. "He believes in the pitches we're calling for him, and he just goes out and just locates.

"The thing that I was most impressed with is he led our team in innings pitched by about 12 or 13 innings, but he saved his two strongest performances of the year for his last two starts. Even when he was starting to get on up there in innings pitched, that's really when we saw him turn it on. It was really fun just to watch him pitch down the stretch."

White hit .343 with nine doubles and two home runs. He drove in 29 runs, scored 21 and led the Knights in fielding percentage.

"Taylor's a kid that just been working his tail off for years and years," Jones said. "He'll go ahead and tell you he might not be the most athletic person in the world, but at the same time he does his job. He was as consistent a player as we had on our whole roster.

"For a long time he was maybe our best defensive player. He was very, very solid at second base all year long. The thing that he brought to the table this year that he hasn't in the past was his bat. Toward the end of the year he was hitting fifth in the lineup for us."

Tuscaloosa County teammates Tyler Gates and Ted Colburn made the AHSAA Class 6A All-State first team. Senior Mason Rogers of Demopolis was a first-team selection in Class 5A.

Gates, a right-hander and a Shelton State Community College signee, had a 12-2 pitching record with three saves. He recorded 130 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings and had an ERA of 1.45.

Colburn, a first baseman for the Wildcats, made the All-State team as a designated hitter. He hit .336 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.

TCHS won the first-round playoff series by beating Hueytown 9-7. Colburn's three-run, walk-off homer capped an eight-run rally. A linebacker, Colburn plans to play football at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Rogers, a catcher and pitcher, hit .464 and recorded six saves in seven pitching appearances.

Rogers has signed to play baseball at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia.


Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.