AHSAA Class 7A-1A Top-10: Trending Up

PBR Alabama Staff

Continuing off a new series this spring, we've decided to highlight 8-10 teams throughout the Class 7A-1A Top-10 Polls that are trending up and have made jumps over the course of the last couple of weeks. This series will be released every two weeks of the season and will highlight teams that have made big jumps in the Top-10 or have made their debut in the rankings in their various classification.

We're excited to give recognition to this week's nine teams who have continued their success through the middle part of the season and will be looking to continue their success throughout the rest of the season.


+ Sparkman Senators

Head Coach: Jason Brewer 
2023 Record: 13-7
Classification, Area No.: Class 7A, Area 7
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 7A No. 10

+ The Sparkman Senators found their way into the Class 7A Top-10 in the most-recent update and are coming off of a strong showing at the PBR North AL Showdown. Currently sitting at 13-7, the Senators will look to continue their strong play on the field when their first area series coming around in early April. Of those 13 wins, Sparkman certainly has some signature wins under the belt over quality programs like Jackson Prep (MS), Mosley (FL), Helena, Russellville, and others throughout their first 20 games of the season. Throughout their roster, the Senators are led both at the plate and on the mound by some experienced juniors and seniors who have been contributing at the varsity level for quite some time now. 3B/RHP Ryan Strachan (Northwest Shoals CC, 2023), RHP/1B Carter Wells (Northeast Mississippi CC, 2023), UTL Jack Buening (Calhoun CC, 2023), and RHP/UTL Jacob Haley (South Alabama, 2023) are just a few of those players that have consistently produced for the Senators at the varsity level. They'll hope that valuable varsity experience over the past couple of years will pay off at the end of the season when they compete in area against Grissom, Huntsville, and Albertville for a berth in the Class 7A playoffs.

+ Briarwood Christian Lions

Head Coach: Steve Renfroe
2023 Record: 12-3
Classification, Area No.: Class 6A, Area 7
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 6A No. 7

+ The Lions enter Week 5 riding some momentum and continuing to climb up the Class 6A Top-10 coming in at No. 7 in this most-recent update. Sitting with a 12-3 record on the young season, Briarwood Christian has shown the ability to be able to score in bunches offensively and hold opponents off the scoreboard throughout their first 15 games. Of those 15 games that they have played so far, the Lions have scored 10+ runs in nine of those contests, and have held their opponents' offenses under three or less runs in 10 of those 15 games. They've shown that they have the ability to win in a variety of ways, and currently are riding a modest six-game winning streak. One of their main strengths has been the dominant pitching from their two frontline seniors arms, as RHP Jonathan Stevens (Alabama, 2023) and RHP Drake Meeks (Southern Miss, 2023) are two right-handers that consistently work in the low-90's with their fastballs. LHP Brayden Heaps (2023) is another quaity arm that continues to give the Lions quality innings as well. INF Brady Waugh (Shelton State CC, 2023), OF Casen Heaps (Wallace-Hancevile CC, 2023) and INF Jake Souders (Samford, 2024) are three more upperclassmen that have prodvided output offensively in the middle of their order. They will be a tough matchup in a playoff or area series in Class 6A. Briarwood Christian has already swept Pelham in their first area series and took Game 1 over McAdory to improve to 3-0 in area play. 

+ Pike Road Patriots

Head Coach: Allen Ponder
2023 Record: 14-3
Classification, Area No.: Class 6A, Area 4
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 6A No. 8

+ The Pike Road Patriots are amongst some of the hottests teams in the state, regardless of classification, and rise up to No. 8 in this week's update in Class 6A. Currently holding a 14-3 record and gearing up for their first area series starting next week, the Patriots have played some quality baseball in all facets throughout the first half of the season. They've racked up some impressive wins over teams like Enterprise, UMS-Wright, Opelika, Prattville, Smiths Station, and others throughout their first 17 games of the season. While only having three losses, they were defeated by three quality teams in Andalusia, Wetumpka, and Holtville. After seeing them a couple weeks ago, the Patriots have a talented and versatile lineup that showed the ability to generates runs in a variety of ways, whether it be hitting it out of the park or playing sound, fundamental baseball. They've had some players step up on the mound so far and will need those pitchers to continue to throw quality innings for them to continue their success. RHP Hudson Franks (2026) is a freshman that has really thrown some big innings so far this season, and the Patriots are paced offensively by SS Drew Britton (2024), OF Houston Markham (2024), and OF Niguel Jenkins (Alabama State, 2023). Pike Road will start up area play next week facing Park Crossing, Russell County, and Benjamin Russell for a berth in the Class 6A playoffs.

+ Sardis Lions

Head Coach: Kevin Vinson
2023 Record: 13-2
Classification, Area No.: Class 5A, Area 13
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 5A No. 6

+ The Sardis Lions are another team that has bolted up the Top-10 in Class 5A after beginning the season unranked and currently sit at No. 6 in the most-recent update. After winning their first two games of area play against Crossville last night in convincing fashion, the Lions now have a 13-2 record and more importantly are 2-0 in area play. They compete in a three-team area in Class 5A and will matchup against Boaz in mid-April for their final area series. The Lions started off hot winning their first nine games of the season before splitting a doubleheader against Madison Academy. Their other loss came to the hands of Moody just a couple days ago, but have some strong wins over Piedmont, Southside, Albertville, and others throughout their first 15 games of the season. They won their area last spring before being eliminated in the 1st round of the Class 5A playoffs, but looked poised to advance even further at the end of the season.

+ Arab Knights

Head Coach: Chad Hudson
2023 Record: 15-5
Classification, Area No.: Class 5A, Area 15
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 5A No. 7

+ The Arab Knights began the season just outside the Top-10 in Class 5A and didn't take them to long to make their debut inside the list. Once they jumped into the Top-10, they've stayed inside and continue to reel off impressive wins en route to a 15-5 record through the first half of the season. The Knights have adjusted well to their new classification after spending the last few years in Class 6A and already look to be one of the top teams in Class 5A. With 15 wins already under their belt, the Knights have recorded some strong wins over programs like Priceville, St. John Paul II, Grissom, Athens, and others on their schedule through their first 20 games. On the mound, they're lead by their ace in RHP/OF Brody McCain (Northwest Shoals CC, 2023) and also have some solid options behind him. 3B/RHP Dakota NeSmith (Gadsden State CC, 2023), 1B/LHP Blake Moon (2023), C Weslee Staton (2023), SS Drew Puccio (2025), and DH JD Hall (2023) are just a few of their offensive contributors in what is a very upperclassmen-lead lineup. They currently sit at 1-0 in area play after defeating Douglas last night and will compete against other area foes in Scottsboro and Guntersville in the next few weeks.

+ Priceville BULLDOGS

Head Coach: Preston Potter
2023 Record: 12-3
Classification, Area No.: Class 4A, Area 12
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 4A No. 3

+ The Priceville Bulldogs are another team that has gotten off to a great start to begin their 2023 campaign and are led by a strong unit of juniors and seniors that have valuable experience playing at the varsity level over the past few years. After beginning the season just outside the Top-10 in Class 4A, the Bulldogs quickly found their way into their list and continued their steady climb up to No. 3 in the this week's update. They've accumulated a strong resume of wins over teams like Arab, St. John Paul II, Decatur, and others on their schedule en route to a 12-3 record through their first 15 games of the season. Their offensive seems to be one of their key strengths this spring, as they returned all nine positional starters from last year's team and they've swung the bat well through the first half of the season RHP/1B Joseph Garrison (Troy, 2023) serves as their ace on the mound, while C Wes Walker (North Alabama, 2024), INF Zach Chaney (Tennessee-Southern, 2023), SS Jackson Prickett (2023), RHP Colman Gann (2025), and LHP/1B Thomas Kerby (2023) have all assumed larger roles on this year's team. The Bulldogs swept through their first area series over Haleyville with relative ease, and are scheduled to play West Morgan and East Lawrence in the next few weeks to round out area play. 

+ Houston Academy Raiders

Head Coach: Tony Kirkland
2023 Record: 13-4
Classification, Area No.: Class 3A, Area 3
Preseason Ranking: 3A No. 9
Current Ranking: 3A No. 4

+ The Houston Academy Raiders have really become one of the top programs in Class 3A year-in, and year-out down in the Wiregrass area and this year seems to be no different. Starting off the year ranked No. 9 in the preseason, the Raiders have enjoyed a steady climb throughout the Top-10 and jumped up to No. 4 in this week's update. After reaching the Sweet 16 a season ago, they look poised for another playoff run while getting off to an impressive 13-4 start with quality wins over teams like Dothan, Wicksburg, Rehobeth, Dale County, and others on their schedule so far through the first month of the season. Their four losses have also come to quality opponents like 5A No. 1 Headland and 2A No. 1 GW Long. RHP/OF Wade Shelley (Auburn, 2025) and RHP/3B Wyatt Shelley (Auburn, 2026) are a pair of brothers that have really taken on a big role as underclassmen this spring both as hitters in the middle of their lineup and on the mound. RHP/3B John Pitchford (Enterprise State CC, 2023) is another talented player on this team's roster who has gotten off to a hot start in both facets. The Raiders already stand a perfect 4-0 in area play after area sweeps over Northside Methodist Academy and Ashford, and still have to play Providence Christian in a couple weeks, who is also ranked inside the Top-10 in Class 3A.

+ North Sand Mountain Bison

Head Coach: Dylan Barbee
2023 Record: 11-2
Classification, Area No.: Class 2A, Area 15
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 2A No. 9

+ The North Sand Mountain Lions have really gotten off to a strong start in just Coach Barbee's second year leading the program and quickly made their way into the Top-10 after starting the season outside of the polls. Coming in at No. 9 in this week's update, the Bison currently stand 11-2 on the season after beginning the season a perfect 8-0. They've racked up some strong wins to their resume through the first month of the season with wins over teams like Crossville, Sylvania, and Pisgah. RHP/1B Kaden Moore (2024) has been a big piece for the Bison so far this spring in addition to some other players while serving as one of their top pitchers in the rotation and hitting in the three-hole of their lineup. C Jackson Burgess (2026) is another player that has assumed an important role for this year's team hitting in the leadoff spot and handling their pitching staff behind the plate defensively. After sweeping Pisgah in convincing fashion last week, the Bison will face-off against Ider, Section, and Fyffe in the next few weeks to complete their area play.

+ Lynn Bears

Head Coach: Mark Hastings
2023 Record: 11-2
Classification, Area No.: Class 1A, Area 10
Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
Current Ranking: 2A No. 7

+ In Class 1A, the Lynn Bears have posted consistent playoff appearances and reached the Sweet 16 a season ago before falling to the hands of Appalachian, the No. 1-ranked team in the classification this spring. This year, the Bears have gotten off to another stellar start accumulating an 11-2 record and continuing to rise up the Top-10 in Class 1A. Jumping up a spot to No. 7 in this week's update, they continue to play a strong brand of baseball and seem to be one of the top teams in a quality Class 1A in 2023. The Bears have defeated some strong teams so far through the first month or so of the spring over teams like Cold Springs, Hackleburg, Meek, Addison, and Winston County. They now stand undefeated in area play after accumulating wins over the past week, and are scheduled to finish up area play here in the next few weeks of the season. Look for the Bears to once again be right back in the mix in Class 1A at the end of the season.


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