Diamond Dragons down Buford, lead Region 8-A race
How can a team be ranked second in the state, and be only the
third-best team in their region?
Ask the Buford Wolves.
Coach Chuck Cook and his Jefferson Dragons rolled into Buford
Monday with the lead in the Region 8-A baseball standings, and
came home with that lead extended, thanks to a 5-1 win.
"We beat their number-one pitcher," Cook said after
the win. "It wasn't a fluke by any means."
The red-hot Corey Hill threw five innings on the hill for Jefferson,
and gave up only two hits and an earned run while striking out
four. Behind Hill, the Dragons played error-free ball.
"We just played good defense," Cook said of his infielders'
play. "When they hit the ball hard, we were right there.
Kyle Potts played a great shortstop. He had probably eight putouts,
and looked real good."
Jefferson took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, off an RBI single
by Potts and a sacrifice fly from Hill. Buford used one hit to
push their lone run across in the second.
Ryan Gurley scored Jefferson's third run when Potts singled him
across, and Hill followed with a two-run blast to finish the
Buford loaded the bases in the fourth, but Potts grabbed a slow
roller and fired to first to end the inning on a close play.
Christopher Wheaton picked up the last six outs against seven
The win improves Jefferson to 6-0 in the region, and leaves the
team with the chance to go up by two full games over their nearest
competitor with a win Wednesday against Providence.
"Beating Wesleyan like we did last Thursday really boosted
our confidence," Cook said, "but we've got to play
some good ball Wednesday."
Providence handed Buford its first loss last week in an 8-2 upset.
The Wolves now find themselves in third place in the region,
but have a number of likely wins upcoming before meeting Providence
and Jefferson again in the
Continued on Page 4B
season's final week.
Hill's and Wheaton's performances were just the latest in a string
of strong outings on the mound.
The Dragons pounded Wesleyan for 11 runs last Thursday, but needed
only two, as Potts held the Wolves to one run in six innings.
Jefferson had only nine hits in the game, but Wesleyan pitchers
also walked nine Dragons.
"We didn't hit the ball well against Wesleyan," Cook
recalled, "but we did what we had to do as far as getting
people across the plate."
The Dragons' nine hits were spread across nine batters, with
Gurley, Potts, Joseph Laird and Josh Nabors each driving in two
"That's big," Cook said of his team's well-rounded
hitting. "Nobody's really standing out, but the whole team's
got a good average."
Jefferson committed only a single error in the game, against
the leadoff hitter.
Rabun Gap provided the Dragons another big region win last Wednesday,
17-0. Hill pitched only one inning, and Wheaton struck out four
of six hitters faced to end the game.
Hill was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs, Shane Wilburn
3-4 with one RBI, and Gurley 2-3 with an RBI. It was Potts, however,
who carried the biggest stick. The junior drove in five runs
in one inning, off a double and a grand-slam home run that sailed
in excess of 400 feet to dead center field.
"If the win the next two games, I'll feel pretty good,"
Cook said prior to Monday's win over Buford. "The pitchers
have been performing well over the past two weeks, but we're
going to see two really good pitchers, including a real good
one Wednesday that shut Buford down last week. This is a real
big test for us. I sure would love to win these two games."
Looking beyond Wednesday, Jefferson will travel to Lakeview Friday
at 4:30 p.m., host Commerce Monday at 5 p.m. and ride to Tallulah
Falls next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
take eighth in a row
Banks shuts out Towns for 10th region
win. After eight region wins in a row, the Banks County Leopards
sit at second place in Region 8-AA. The Leopards (14-3, 10-2)
will have a shot at inching closer to first when they host top-ranked
GAC Friday. Banks County was edged out 2-1 the last time they
faced the Spartans.
But the Leopards haven't lost a region game, or any game, since
the loss in late March.
Before GAC, though, Banks must get past Dawson County, the only
other region team to defeat the Leopards. The Tigers came from
behind to beat Dawson the last time the two teams faced off.
Banks was scheduled to face the Tigers Wednesday.
"We really need to win," head coach Mike Williams said.
"We don't need to be swept by anyone in the region."
Defeating Dawson could possibly push the Tigers out of playoff
contention-a fitting revenge considering Dawson County beat Banks
in a one-game playoff to end the Leopards' season last year.
"We have got to come out and hit the ball," Williams
said. "I know the pitching will be there and defensively
we haven't been making mistakes."
Banks County hopes to return its starting catcher to the lineup
against Dawson. Eli Cooper has missed his last two games to an
Cooper was batting .392 with 15 RBIs prior to his injury.
"He's been hitting the ball real well," Williams said.
"And he's been doing a good job behind the plate."
VS. TOWNS COUNTY
On Monday afternoon, Leopard junior Corey Sims was able to pitch
a shutout in six and one-third innings to take a 4-0 win over
Towns County. Joseph Whitlock came in for the save.
"Corey pitched another good one," Williams said. "We
needed that win."
Sims pitched out of several jams against the Indians. Towns left
nine runners stranded in the game.
Banks took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after
Whitlock drove in Joe Krause on a grounder to shortstop. Whitlock
went around to score after tagging on a pop fly to center field.
The Leopards scored another run in the bottom of the third.
Krause led off and reached on an error before stealing second.
He moved to third on Whitlock's line into the outfield.
Hank Jones came in in the clean- up spot and popped the ball
into shallow left field. Three Towns County defenders watched
the ball fall to the ground, allowing Krause to move in for the
score, putting Banks up 3-0.
The Leopards took another run in the fifth inning off Jones'
solo shot to center field to lead off the inning.
Towns County tried to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh
inning. After fanning the first batter, Sims walked three straight,
prompting Williams to bring in Whitlock.
Whitlock fanned the next batter on three straight pitches and
forced the Indians' last hitter to pop out to short to end the
The Leopards knotched a 13-5 win over Apalachee Friday night.
Jones and Clint Angel both had homers to help Banks' cause.
VS. LUMPKIN COUNTY
Banks County was able to beat the only region team they hadn't
faced, taking Lumpkin 7-6 last Wednesday.
"It was a big win to beat them," Williams said. "They've
got a good team and they hit the ball well."
After going up 1-0 early, Banks quickly fell behind 3-1 and were
later behind 6-3 going into the fifth. But the Leopards tied
up the score at 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the sixth, Banks was able to jump ahead 7-6. Whitlock came
in to pitch in the top of the seventh, taking the save.
"We battled and fought back," Williams said. "We
drew some walks and got some hits when we needed to. It was a
nail-bitter but we were able to pull it out."
Baseball Tigers Fourth
The Commerce Tiger baseball team kept its record above the .500
mark against tough competition. The Tigers are 4-3 in the Region
and are hanging on to the last playoff spot with one game left
before the half way mark in their region schedule.
Wednesday the Tigers will play at Wesleyan. Monday Commerce will
travel down the road to face region leader Jefferson and its
feared pitching staff that struck out 17 Tigers the last time
Buford welcomed Commerce to its plush park and opened the game
with three runs after holding Commerce scoreless in the first.
The Tigers put two runs on the board in the second. A walk to
Steven Bihss, followed by a Dane Cotrell single and a Buford
error allowed the runs to cross.
Buford scored four times in the second on four hits a walk and
a hit batter.
Cotrell walked the first two batters in the Buford half of the
third. Bihss came on in relief, walked one and allowed a hit
but got out of the inning without a Buford runner crossing the
The Wolves held Commerce scoreless in the third but trailing
by five runs the Tigers attempted to put together a rally. The
Big Cats were only able to get one run across the plate as Wes
Prickett scored on a hit by Scott White.
Bihss began the fourth giving up a hit and a walk. Both Buford
runners would score.
Craig Henderson came in and shut the door on Buford's bats, but
it was too late. The score was 9-3 after four. The Tigers were
able to get one run across in the seventh when a double by Chad
Jordan scored Charlie Epps who had reached on a single.
The final score was 9-4. Cotrell took the loss for the Tigers.
Commerce VS Lakeview
Commerce's next game was a big victory at Lakeview, Monday, April
Henderson started slowly . He gave up five hits in the first
inning, walked one and the Commerce second baseman committed
an error allowing the Lions to score four runs in the first.
For more information see this weeks Commerce News.
Panthers look for payback second time through
The Jackson County baseball team began its second trip through
the Region 8-AAA schedule Monday, with a 7-6 loss to Monroe Area.
During the second time around, the Panthers hope to do just what
Monroe did Monday pay back the teams that have beaten them.
The Panthers began the region slate with strong wins over Monroe
and Elbert County, but are just 2-6 in region play since.
Just past halfway, the region cream seems to have begun rising.
Loganville, expected before the season began to be the team to
beat, sits at the top, at 8-2, but both Stephens County and Hart
County are close behind at 7-3. The Indians bested Hart County
late last month.
The surprise team of the season looks to be Madison County. The
Raiders currently hold the crucial fourth slot at 6-4. The top
four teams in the region will advance to the state tournament.
Eastside is fifth, at 5-5.
Sixth place is hotly contested, with Elbert County, Monroe Area
and Winder-Barrow joining Jackson County at 4-6. The Panthers
have defeated all three 4-6 opponents once.
Franklin County, beneficiary of a Panther loss last week, sits
at the bottom of the heap, at 1-9, realistically out of the playoffs,
though not mathematically yet.
A home win against Madison County Monday is crucial to the Panthers'
playoff hopes, but the team can't afford to overlook Elbert County
today. A win over Loganville Friday could provide a much-needed
boost going into the season's final two weeks.
Jackson County started well against Franklin County last week,
but the Lions pounced back with six runs in the fourth inning
on their way to an 8-7 win.
Michael Savadge looked to have the game off on the right note
in the first inning, but his home run ball was caught against
and above the center-field fence. Pitcher Trey McConnell was
strong on the mound, holding Franklin County to only two hits
through the first three innings.
Jason Pittman put the Panthers up 2-0 in the fourth with a dinger
that also drove in Tim Whisnant, but Franklin's bats woke up
with a vengeance in the fourth. The Lions pounded out five hits,
including a home run, to claim the lead. Whisnant came on to
record the third out.
Tyler Murphy jacked a long ball in the fifth with Cody Fortson
on base to close the gap to 6-4, but Franklin took advantage
of a walk, an error and a single to score again in the bottom
Emotions ran high in the sixth after two straight Franklin County
batters were hit by pitches, but the adrenaline was just a precursor
to the game's end.
The Panthers came up with three runs in the seventh, thanks to
an error, two walks, a single and a sacrifice.
Savadge reached on an error with one out, and Murphy and Hill
both walked to load the bases. After pinch-runner Ray Brown was
called on for Hill, Lee Reece sacrificed Savadge in. Blake Wilson's
clutch single drove in Murphy to make it a one-run game with
Whisnant slapped a slow roller on the infield, but the Lion first-baseman
came off the bag in what would have been the game's final play.
Brown scored easily to tie at 7-7, but a strikeout ended any
Franklin County took the game in the bottom half, on a pair of
With one out, a Lion batter popped up along the line between
home and first base.
captures third state title in four years
Madison County is Georgia's best when it comes to rifle shooting.
No qualifiers - no ifs, ands or buts - are needed to support
In three of the past four years, Madison County has captured
the Georgia High School Association's rifling title, setting
a new state record each time.
Saturday, the team trekked back to the Wolf Creek Olympic Shooting
Complex in Atlanta and captured the crown with a 1,160 effort,
topping the Raiders' old 1,159 state record effort of two years
ago. Madison County defeated East Coweta, which fired a 1,145,
getting stellar performances from all four starters. Woodward
Academy finished well back in third with a 1,123.
Two-time GHSA individual state champion Crystal Dove captured
the silver this year, posting a 293 (99 from the prone position,
95 from standing and 99 from kneeling). She finished one shot
behind East Coweta's Amber Christ, who fired a 294.
"I wanted to place first individually," said Dove,
the team's lone senior. "But winning as a team means more.
It feels really good. I'm really proud of the team. We couldn't
have asked to do any better."
Aaron Phillips fired a 290 (98-96-96) to place fourth individually.
Kristi Smith shot a 289 (99-94-96). And Krystle Waldroup tallied
a 288 (98-94-96).
Repeating this year's feat could be tough for the Raiders next
year, with long-time standout Dove moving on to Murray State
in Kentucky on a rifle scholarship.
But Dove said she feels the squad has plenty of talent returning
with rising seniors Waldroup and Phillips and rising juniors
Smith and Josh Chandler.
"I wish them luck next year and hope they can do it again,"