By Phil Gibson
It took extra innings, but Hewitt-Trussville gave first-year head coach Jeff Mauldin his 400th career win Saturday. The 10-9 win over Pinson Valley came courtesy of a walk-off double from senior Dakota Harwell in the second game of a doubleheader.
Pinson Valley defeated Hewitt-Trussville 2-0 in the first game.
“It was tough conditions for both teams,” Mauldin said of the near freezing temperatures on the field. “I was proud of our kids. They shut us out in the first game, but I was happy with the way they responded. I think we showed good character.”
It didn’t look like Mauldin would reach career win No. 400 after the first game, which Pinson Valley won behind an outstanding performance by senior pitcher Colby Wingard. He pitched all seven innings and allowed just two hits.
“Pinson Valley is an excellent team,” Mauldin said. “They have a legit shot to win a state championship at 5A, there’s no question. Coach (Shane) Chappell is going to do a great job with those guys.”
Things weren’t looking great early in the second game either, as Hewitt-Trussville quickly fell behind 3-0 in the second inning before going off in the third for six runs. Among the players who stepped up was winning pitcher Will Pharis, who shut out the Indians for three innings on one hit after entering the game with the Huskies down 9-8. The offense did the rest as it tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Brent Robson. After a scoreless eighth, Harwell finished the comeback with a line drive to center to bring Reid Gunter home for the winning run.
“That was (Pharis’) first outing of the year and he went three scoreless at the end of the game,” Mauldin said
. “It was a total team win, and what we want to build our team around is everyone contributing.”
Mauldin gave all the credit for his 400th win to the players that he has coached during his career.
Mauldin spent the past six seasons at Pelham, where he compiled a 176-51 record. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Clay-Chalkville from 2000-2006, where he won a state championship in 2003. His 2005 and 2006 teams at Clay-Chalkville were the state runners-up. His career record at Clay-Chalkville was 218-62.
“A lot of people were involved in that,” Mauldin said. “I had great players at Clay-Chalkville and Pelham, and we hope to build the same type of program here at Hewitt that we had at the other places. The players win games, we just try and get them ready.”