MONTGOMERY --- The G.W. Long baseball and softball teams won only three games in Montgomery last Thursday, but they created a LONG-lasting legacy.
The wins gave the two Rebel teams Class 2A state championships – the baseball for the third straight year, the softball for the second straight season.
With both teams earning state titles in consecutive years, G.W. Long, located in Skipperville in Dale County, became the first Alabama High School Athletic Association school to win state crowns in both sports in consecutive seasons.
“That is an unbelievable feat,” Rebel baseball coach Drew Miller said Friday morning. “These group of kids are really special. To watch both of them compete (Thursday) was a very special day for the community and G.W. Long High School.
“That is something that is so rare. I think it was unbelievable the schedule worked out to where we both played on the same day and then to see our boys stay (for the girls) – as we didn’t leave until midnight (after softball finished) – and to see them stand behind the dugout and cheer the girls on I thought was the icing on the cake.
“Now to hear this is the first time of back-to-back in both sports really puts this over the line to being something that probably won’t happen again. I am proud of our kids for being able to accomplish it.”
Softball coach Nikki Long added, “It is a great achievement for our kids. It will be something they will remember for a lifetime that they were a part of.”
The baseball Rebels clinched their latest state title with a 6-0 win over Westbrook Christian early Thursday morning. The softball team won a semifinal game 13-3 over Collinsville in the morning and captured its state title with a 3-0 win over Hatton in a game twice-delayed by weather and didn’t finish until 11 p.m. Thursday, nearly 11 hours after the boys won.
Only eight AHSAA schools have accomplished winning state titles in the two sports in the same season. G.W. Long has done it three of those eight times, also earning the feat in 2000 with the softball team winning a slow-pitch title and baseball winning a title.
The two teams also accomplished the rare feat of both going wire-to-wire as the No. 1 ranked team in the state polls though the season and winning its respective state title.
The softball team finished the season 53-3, its best record in fast-pitch history and the fifth best winning percentage (.946) in AHSAA history. The baseball team finished 34-6.
The state title was the third for the school’s softball program, while it was 16th for the baseball team, which remained perfect in state finals, winning in all 16 of its appearances.
While repeating as state champions were a goal of each team, Miller and Nikki Long said they hadn’t heard much open discussion about the teams trying to repeat together, though it was probably present.
“It probably was in the back of people’s minds,” Miller said.
“Among themselves there probably was,” added Long, referring to the players of both teams. “They were so supportive of each other wanting it for themselves but also for each other and as a school.”
That support for each other was evident in Montgomery. The softball team watched the baseball team in its state finals’ best-of-three series opener on Wednesday night, an 18-5 Rebel win. They rode their bus over for Game 2 from Lagoon Park to Riverwalk following their semifinal win early Thursday and made it in time to watch the baseball team’s game-clinching out and enjoy the postgame celebration.
“The girls came busting in right down (behind) home plate, screaming and hollering. I thought that was another special moment,” Miller said.
Later, all of the baseball team members were present – even through five hours of weather delays – in support of the softball team during its championship game.
“It was great to see the girls wanting to be there for the boys and for the boys to stick around for the girls,” Long said.
It was probably also evident on Friday afternoon when the teams, like they did last year, came together again for a mud-sliding hour of fun in celebration of their titles.
After the softball team posed for photos following their win Thursday for family members, the players requested the baseball players join them for a photo – a historic photo of two state champions who still had dirty uniforms on just hours after winning state titles.
“You can never repeat that moment,” said Miller, who noted there are photos of the 2000 and 2018 state softball and baseball teams together taken in front of the school, shot several days later, but not on the day of winning in the same day.
“We can repeat that moment in front of the school every single day if we wanted to, but the moment with some of our kids in shorts and a lot of them with their uniform tops on and the girls just finishing will never be redone. That was awesome.”
Moments later, the celebration subsided as fans and players began to file out to the parking lot for the rides back to Skipperville, ending a day that will likely never be forgotten by those associated with the Rebels.
“It was just a special day for our school,” Miller said.
And one that created a special legacy for the record books.