By Chad Dixon
Russell County’s Tony Rasmus has accomplished a lot as the Warriors’ head baseball coach. He guided the 2005 Warriors to a state championship, has had 11 players drafted to Major League Baseball and on March 30 won his 500th game as a coach after a double header sweep over Robert E. Lee (10-0, 12-0) on senior night at home. Russell County enters the week as the top-ranked team in 6A in the state of Alabama, has a 28-3 overall record and a 2-1 area record.
“I’m certainly proud of being part of 500 wins, all but 25 here at Russell County. I’m proud of it only because it means we have had great players line up here and win that many baseball games. We have had kids that chose to be different,” Rasmus said.
Rasmus feels that he has evolved as a coach over the years and understands the priority is on the players.
“As a young coach I thought I was so important and instrumental in us winning games, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that players win games, not coaches. The game is the game at every local high school. Every coach around here is a knowledgeable coach and every coach teaches their kids how to play the game.
“So when you come to Russell County, you’re not getting better coaching in baseball. As a matter of fact, I’d certainly attest to the fact that Bobby Howard has been a special game coach. He is brilliant during a game and helps his players win baseball games.
“I’ve also stated many times that A.J. Kehoe is an excellent coach today. I’d let my kids play for him.
“So in terms of baseball knowledge there are probably much better baseball guys around here than me,” Rasmus added.
The Warriors entered the season with just four seniors and one junior. Russell County’s young core of sophomores (has) stepped up in a major way under Rasmus’s tutelage.
“I do believe we’ve been different than other local schools in that we have been able to push our kids to be different. I have worked our kids to prepare them to be able to compete in life. I’ve never considered it about winning games. I have kids try to talk to me every year about coming here but most often realize this isn’t about a baseball game for me.
“I was at Florence for a year and you couldn’t push the kids like we do here. The more money you have at a school the nicer the facilities you’ll have, the less coaching you can do and the more times an administrator will tell you who you have to play and how much money their parents donated to the football program,” Rasmus stated.
Russell County’s Kobe Van Bogart notched win #499 for Rasmus on Friday in game one against the Generals. He allowed only one hit and struck out 12 through five innings in a dominating performance. Hunter Donaldson was 2-for-3, scored three times and drove in three runs at the top of the lineup. Jackson Huguley was 3-for-4 with three RBI of his own. The Warriors prevailed 12-0.
Austin Embrey’s five-inning, one-hit shutout won his coach his 500th game in a 10-0 victory. He also contributed offensively. He was 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI. Huguley drove in four runs and was 2-for-4. Donaldson drove in a pair and was 1-for-3 with a walk.
The Warriors swept Houston Academy on the road on March 31 (13-2, 6-2). Donaldson, Embrey and Joseph Wade all doubled in the game one 13-2 victory. Embrey was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Zane Faulk drove in three runs. Faulk and Donaldson were 2-for-4. Hunter Milam pitched five innings. He allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out nine.
Zack Henderson led the offense in the game two 6-2 win. He was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Faulk tripled, scored a run and drove in one. Logan Austin picked up the win. He was dominant with 15 strikeouts over 6 1/3rd innings. He allowed two runs on six hits.
The Warriors resume play this weekend on the road. They will play Marianna tomorrow, and Saraland and Spanish Fort on Saturday.