Dothan’s Chase Allsup was a pitching standout from start to finish this past prep baseball season, racking up the best numbers of any Wiregrass pitcher.
G.W. Long’s baseball team, meanwhile, had a mostly up-and-down season before some changes by head coach Drew Miller helped the Rebels catch fire in the final week and make a surge all the way to the Class 2A state championship series.
For their efforts, Allsup and Miller have garnered Dothan Eagle postseason honors for the 2021 high school baseball season. Allsup, a senior who has caught the eyes of pro scouts, earned Player of the Year accolades. Miller, a 16-year veteran at Long, claimed Coach of the Year honors.
“I am just blessed to say this happened to me,” Allsup said of his Player of Year selection. “Everybody behind me made it possible. I just want to thank them.”
Miller said his coaching award was a credit to his assistant coaches and players as much as to him.
“Anytime an award goes out to a coach, it definitely is a group effort,” Miller said. “We have a great group of coaches that help me and really make my job a lot easier.
"The players I am able to coach make my job easier. We have a great group of guys that bought into what we were doing this year and we watched them develop. We weren’t very good at the beginning of the year and as we grew as a team, we started to see some things come together. I feel I am accepting this award more for a whole group of people than myself.”
Command, four pitches
power Allsup’s success
With a fastball clocked in the mid to upper 90s and a four-pitch arsenal overall, Allsup dominated in amassing a 9-1 record, a 1.73 earned run average and a Wiregrass-best 107 strikeouts. Opposing hitters batted just .209 against him.
He also had a solid year as a hitter, batting .327 with a .460 on-base percentage, 27 RBI and 20 runs over 36 games.
His efforts, both as a pitcher and hitter, helped Dothan to a 27-11 record and a state quarterfinal playoff appearance in Class 7A.
Allsup said he didn’t have any statistical goals before the season. Instead, his focus was on helping the Wolves win games and to enjoy his teammates.
“The goal was to put my team in the best position to win,” Allsup said. “That is really all you can do. The other goal was to have the most efficient year since it was the first year back after COVID. We hadn’t been together a lot and I wanted to mesh with my team and give them the best opportunity.”
While he is a solid hitter at the plate, Allsup’s forte is on the mound. He throws mainly four pitches, mixing in a slider, curve ball and change-up with his much-feared fastball.
“I feel like my command has gotten better over the years,” Allsup said. “I feel like it allows me to pick what pitches I want to throw in what counts and be able to keep hitters off balance, then I can command the fastball which has been the best pitch I have had so far. Everything goes off that, so if I can command the fastball, the off-speed will be there.”
Back in the fall, Allsup signed to play college baseball at Auburn. However, pro scouts began to follow the Dothan pitcher in droves. In an area game at Enterprise, 13 scouts were on hand to watch the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Allsup.
Traditionally the Major League Baseball Draft has been held in early June, but has been pushed back to July this year, another fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Allsup said he has had some conversations with pro scouts, but doesn’t have an idea of where he stands in the draft.
“As of right now, it is just trying to get to talk to some of the scouts and them trying to get to know me and me trying to get to know them,” Allsup said. “Nothing has really been said on what is going to happen (in the draft). I figure that is a conversation to be held down the road.”
He also didn’t know what round or monetary figure would be enough to make him go pro over his plan to attend Auburn.
“That is a sit-down conversation I still have to have with my parents and family and then we have to talk to coaches to see which option is the best benefit for me and what will help me and my family down the road.”
Late changes spur
Long to state run
After an early-April series loss to rival Ariton, tradition-rich G.W. Long, a 16-time state champion, including the last two crowns, but with only two seniors and a heavy inexperienced team, was 11-10 and appeared to be on shaky ground to defend its state titles.
Behind a special-called team meeting and some changes by Miller, the Rebels surged at the right time. They won 11 of the next 12 games, including four playoff series to reach the Class 2A state finals. G.W. Long also avenged the series loss to Ariton by beating the Purple Cats in the semifinal round.
The Rebels lost the championship series to Westbrook Christian and finished the season 23-14, but reached the finals after a year of mostly struggling.
“When you lose the way we did (to Ariton in regular season), we had to gather everybody together,” Miller said. “(It) almost felt like we got slapped in the face (by Ariton). That kind of me gave me an opportunity to bring us back to earth and say, ‘Hey, if this is what we want (play in state finals), we have to do this, this and this. If that is what we are saying we want to do then we are going to have to do some different things.’
"We had to be honest with some people and some situations we had. It all kind of worked out at the right time.”
Miller said it was a special-called meeting where things were laid out and it wasn’t an easy situation.
“Sometimes it is difficult and you have some hurt feelings,” Miller said. “If everybody is in it for the right reason, those feelings go away quickly because it is all about the end game. We had to all be grown-ups about it. It ended up being a real good thing for our team.”
He added it wasn’t just coaches, but players too who spoke.
“It was all of us,” Miller said. “We do have coaches who are going to say some things, but we always leave the floor open to anyone who wants to be a leader.
"I always think leadership comes from people who No. 1 play the game the right way and No. 2 who have a passion to help their teammates and that is what started to see. We started to see some roles being filled that were not filled before.”
Part of the process was moving people around, both in the lineup and on the field, especially in the outfield and designated hitter spots.
“This was my 16th year and I have never had to move my lineup as much as I did this year," Miller said. "We didn’t really settle with a lineup until almost the playoffs. Normally, I am settled on the lineup in March and sometimes earlier than that.
“It was me figuring out who could do some small ball that was going to help us.”
After the Ariton series loss was the final week of the regular season. The Rebels had four games, and won three with the setback a 2-1 loss to Rehobeth. The following week, Long won on the road at St. Luke’s in the first round of the playoffs.
Suddenly, the confidence was back for Long.
“That (St. Luke series) was a wake-up call for our guys, not in a bad way, but a way to where, ‘Hey, maybe we are pretty decent. We can do it and make a run,’” Miller said.
The Rebels did make the run, winning series over Thorsby at home and Ranburne on the road before winning the series rematch with Ariton to reach the state finals.
Super 12 Baseball Team
Chase Allsup, Dothan
Player of the Year
9-1 record, 1.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP (24 walks/46 hits, 60 2/3 innings), 107 strikeouts, 24 walks. Four shutouts; .327 avg., .460 OBP, 2 HRs, 10 doubles, 27 RBI, 20 runs, 6-of-6 steals, 17 walks, 19 strikeouts, 8 hit by pitches.
Te’Relle George-Mills, Dothan Senior shortstop/pitcher .436 avg., .581 OBP, 4 HRs, 26 RBI, 35 runs, 5 triples, 19-of-20 steals, 14 hit by pitches, 21 walks, 16 strikeouts; 3-3 record, 3.41 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 33 walks in 41 innings
Parker Sessions, Enterprise, senior shortstop
.468 avg., Wiregrass-best 51 hits, .554 OBP, 1 homer, 15 doubles, 2 triples, 20 RBI, 33 runs, 36-of-40 steals (36 was second most in Wiregrass), 14 walks, 10 strikeouts, 9 hit by pitches
Hess Horne, Eufaula, senior shortstop/pitcher
.479 avg., .578 OBP, 0 HRs, 7 doubles, 1 triple 24 RBI, 38 runs, 14-of-15 steals, 14 walks, only 7 strikeouts in 108 at-bats, 8 hit by pitches; 6-2 record, 2.77 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 20 walks in 48 innings
Joe Watkins, Rehobeth, senior shortstop
.494 avg., .604 OBP, 2 HRs, 10 doubles, Wiregrass co-high 6 triples, 30 RBI, 41 runs, 18-of-20 steals, 18 walks, 13 strikeouts
Bryce Cunningham, Headland, senior pitcher
6-1 record, 0.76 ERA, 0.72 WHIP (4 walks/29 hits in 46 innings), 76 strikeouts only 4 walks in 46 innings
Braydon Harvin, Houston Academy, senior pitcher/outfielder
7-1 record, 3.00 ERA, 1.46 WHIP (31 walks/37 hits in 46 2/3 innings), 61 strikeouts, 31 walks; .459 avg., .585 OBP, 0 HRs, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 13 RBI, 13 runs, 3-of-3 steals, 9 walks, 10 strikeouts
Jake Smith, Providence Christian, senior shortstop/pitcher
.459 avg, .583 OBP, Wiregrass-best 10 HRs, 41 RBIs (second most in area), 45 runs, Wiregrass-best 17 doubles, 3 triples, 24-of-27 steals, 27 walks, 23 strikeouts; 2-3 record, 2.92 ERA, 37 strikeouts, 19 walks in 26 1/3 innings
Nash Evans, Ariton, senior pitcher
9-3, 1 save, 1.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP (15 walks/55 hits in 72 1/3 innings); Wiregrass-best 110 strikeouts, only 15 walks in 72 1/3 innings; three shutouts, one no-hitter
Carson Dunlap, G.W. Long, senior third baseman/pitcher/first baseman
.427 avg., .518 OBP, 3 HRs, 37 runs, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 6-of-7 steals, 9 walks, 14 strikeouts; 2-3 record, 3.55 ERA
Trevor Morris, G.W. Long, junior shortstop
.435 avg., .555 OBP, Wiregrass best 53 runs and 37 steals (in 38 tries), 22 RBI, 0 HR, 2 doubles, 18 walks, 11 strikeouts in 139 at-bats, 13 hit by pitches
Drew Nelson, Pike Liberal Arts, junior pitcher/right fielder
8-1 record, 0.94 ERA, 0.87 WHIP (24 walks/21 hits in 52 innings), 97 strikeouts, four shutouts, one no-hitter; .385 avg., 5 HRs, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 22 RBI, 24 runs, 6-of-6 steals, 21 walks, 16 strikeouts for state champs.