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May 08, 2002

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Oh so close
Leopards fall just five strokes short of state tournament
A putt here and a putt there.
That’s all Leopards head golf coach Chris Colwell said stood between his team and a state tournament berth.
The Leopards finished third in a field of 11 teams, just five stokes shy of second place Rabun County. The Leopards shot a team score of 329. GAC took first with 306.
“All in all, we played pretty well,” Colwell said.
More spectacular for the Leopards, however, was sophomore Matt Dale’s second place finish individually. Dale was ahead of 61 other players at the tournament, shooting a 73 through 18.
“He did very good,” Colwell said. “He shot two over on the front and two under on the back. Next year, I expect him to be in the top five again.”
Dale was beat out for the top spot by Chris Cranford, a sophomore from GAC who shot a 67.
GAC and Rabun County will both move on to the state tournament.
Other Leopards’ scores from the region tourney include: Jacob Fountain, 79; Drew Sparks, 86; Justin Crocker, 91; Cody Whitlock, 100; and Tanner Goodson, 101.
The Lady Leopards took a third place finish as well at the tournament, finishing behind GAC and Dawson County.
“This was the first time the girls have ever played 18 holes,” head coach Robin Redmond said. “They did a great job placing third in the region despite a long day and twice as much golf as they’re used to.”
GAC and Dawson will both move on to the state tournament. The Lady Leopards finished with a team score of 243, behind Dawson’s 219. They were just two strokes ahead of White County.
Jessie Freeman shot the low score for the Lady Leopards with 116. Jessica Lewallen shot 127 and Jennifer Martin had 134.

Back To The Gridiron
Tigers Kickoff
10-Day Spring Football Session
Though the Tigers’ opening football matchup is a distant four months away, the gridiron chores have already started.
The Commerce Tiger football team began the first phase of their preparations for the 2002 season, kicking off spring practice Monday with workouts in helmets and shorts.
While the practice session had a first-day feel to it, Tiger head football coach Steve Savage said the group still had an impressive showing.
“It was a lot better than we expected to be,” Savage said. “I thought all our quarterbacks did well stepping in and leading the teams...It went a little slow but we were pleased with the effort and the turnout.”
For the most part, the team kept things simple, going through technique, assignment and blocking drills.
The team also used the first day to run through some basics on offense, working on one triple option play with three variations.
“That’s our bread and butter,” the coach said.
As for the rest of the spring schedule, the team will put on the pads this week and the rest of next week according to Savage. But for the most part, things will be kept simple during the 10-day spring practice session.
“There aren’t but two or three things offensively that we’re going to look at and two or three things defensively that we’re going to look at,” Savage said. “We’re not going to try to put in a game plan. It will just give us something to think about this summer and give the kids a chance to show themselves.”

18-6 Diamond Dragons to begin state title hunt Thursday at home
Jefferson baseball players gave head coach Chuck Cook something he’s never had last week - a region championship.
After seeing his teams finish as runners-up six times, Cook guided the Diamond Dragons to an 11-8 win and sole possesion of the Region 8-A championship last Thursday.
“That was special,” Cook said of the win, “especially to get it with a group of seniors.”
With one goal down and one to go, Cook’s Dragons will begin their attempt at a state title Thursday, when Jefferson hosts Bremen in round one of the Class A tournament. Bremen needed a big win over St. Francis late last week to seal up the fourth seed from Region 6-A.
The state tournament is run in a best two-out-of-three format in each round.
Teams play doubleheaders on the first appointed date, then a deciding game if necessary a day later. The next available date (GHSA guidelines prohibit Sunday contests) is reserved for making up any games from the first two days that are postponed due to weather.
Jefferson’s doubleheader with Bremen is set to begin at 2 p.m. Thursday, with Friday’s if-needed game scheduled at 5 p.m.
If the Dragons get past Bremen, they would also host round two, against the winner of this week’s Athens Academy - Heard County series. Both teams have been highly-touted during the regular season, and Athens Academy has been ranked as high as third among the state’s Class A teams.
“That’s a tough draw for us,” Cook said of the potential second-round series, “but we’ve got to win Thursday first. That’s the first step in reaching our next goal.”
Round two is scheduled to begin next Wednesday, and game times will be determined after round one is completed.
Cook noted that the Jefferson team owes much to its deep fan base.
“We really appreciate our fans and the support we’ve gotten so far. It’s helped us to get where we are, and we need to get everybody out there [during the state tournament] to help us keep going.”
In other Region 8-A news, Buford will meet Adairsville Thursday, while Lakeview matches up with Gordon Lee and Wesleyan plays Walker.
Buford rocked Jefferson senior Kyle Potts early in last week’s game and held a 4-0 lead off five hard shots in the first inning, but the Dragons came back late to claim the win.
Down 6-1 in the fourth inning, Jefferson took the lead with six runs off three singles, a walk and four hit batsmen. Ryan Gurley padded the lead with a two-run homer in the fifth, and scored again in the seventh after doubling and being driven in by Josh Nabors’ sacrifice.
Jefferson closed the regular season Monday with an 8-4 win over Providence.
As his team already had the region crowed won, Cook opted for a platoon pitching performance. Senior Christopher Wheaton threw one strong inning and was relieved by Tyler Murphy, Chris Seibert, Michael Freeman, Landon Bailey and Potts.
Seibert swung the hot bat Monday, going 2-for-2 with a home run. Potts and Murphy also homered, and the Dragons got hits from Gurley, Wheaton, Jeremy Smith and Brian Wells.

Diamond Panthers close season with home loss to Hart County
The Jackson County varsity baseball team closed what could only be described as a disappointing season in what could only be described as a bizarre way last Thursday, in a 14-1 home loss to Hart County in five innings.
The Panthers’ final game of the season was to have been at Franklin County, but the game was rained out and subsequently cancelled, as the outcome would have had no bearing on the state playoff situation.
Hart’s Bulldogs pounced early and often at Jackson County, boasting hard, precise hitting in addition to a solid defensive effort.
Jackson County’s brightest moment of the game came on a two-run homerun midway through the game, but the batter was ruled out due to batting out of order.
Aside from that and a couple other outbursts, Panther bats were relatively silent for the entire game.
Loganville eased in to the Class AAA state playoffs with an untarnished region record, and will host Pepperel Thursday. The Red Devils look to be one of the top contenders for the Class AAA state title.
Madison County claimed the #2 spot in Region 8-AAA, and will host a tough Central of Carrollton team Thursday. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Red Raiders after that, as the team would likely face nationally-ranked Gainesville in round two.
Third seed Stephens County meets Carrollton Thursday, while fourth seed Winder-Barrow squares off with Hiram.

Resilient Raiders gear up for state
Take any classic sports flick—”The Natural,” “Hoosiers” or even the light-hearted “Major League”— and there’s always a common thread.
The good guys avert a disaterous season with a timely and emotionally charged lateseason run.
The diamond Raiders’ 2002 story has followed a similar silver-screen plot line.
The team kicked the ball around in the field and went silent at the plate early on this year in a 7-9 start.
But the same Raider team has played the part of world beaters 10 games later, winning nine times in that stretch to qualify for the state playoffs for the first time since 1998.
Not only has the Raiders’ inspired turnaround secured a spot in the AAA state tournament, but also earned themselves a second seed in the event, clinched with Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Eastside, giving them a home field advantage in the first round of action.
“I’m happy for the kids,” diamond Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth said. “They could have easily thrown in the towel and just played it out. But they’ve done something that no one else around here has accomplished in four years.”
The team will now find out where the rest of the story will take them when they face 6-AAA third-seed Central Carroll (15-8 overall, 7-5 in the region) in a three-game series to open state tournament play.
The squads will square off Thursday in Danielsville at 5 p.m. in a double header and play again Friday if necessary.
If Madison County gets by Central Carroll, they’d meet the winner of AAA state-title favorite Gainesville and Riverwood.
The Lions come into the contests on a much different note than the streaking Raiders, dropping the last three contests of the regular season, losing by a combined score of 27-6.
In fact, the team was shutout 6-0 against 6-AAA region champion Hiram Monday which cost them the second seed out of their region.
While Lion head coach Rodney Kay said the team’s bats “sagged a little” in the team’s three game slide, he explained his team has been mostly an offensive-oriented outfit this season, hitting at a .315 clip.
In particular, Madison County will have to contend with the dangerous Parker trio—twin brothers Alex and Jason and cousin Seth—who occupy the the three, four and five spots in the Lions lineup.
Alex is the club’s top hitter with a .441 average “with four or five home runs” according to Kay while Seth is hitting around the .350 mark and Jason is batting around .320.
From the mound, the team relies on four main hurlers, left handed starters Jake Norton and Blake Herrin, who Kay said throw in the 77-80 mph hour range, and right handed starter S. Parker who clocks in the low-to-mid 80’s. A. Parker is the team’s closer and throws from 84-86 mph according to Kay.
Griffeth said that he didn’t know much about the Lions, but added that the best thing for his club to do is focus on taking care of themselves.
“I learned that you’ve just got to worry about yourselves and play to your strengths,” the coach said.
In the matchup with Central Carroll, the team will look to main
the intensity has been such a key the second half revival according to Griffeth.
The team kept their momentum rolling Monday in an 8-5 win over Hart County in a game that was basically meaningless to Madison County but held the Bulldog’s playoff fates.
“Last night (Monday night), we played like you would want to,” Griffeth said. “Hart County was playing the biggest game of thier lives...But we brought some intensity and kept it going.”
Against the Bulldogs Madison County erupted for five runs in the third inning to help carry them to an 8-5 win over Hart County in Hartwell.
With the team’s playoff position already set, Madison County used the opportunity to get some players some work, but certainly didn’t take the day off according to Griffeth.
“We’re playing good, we took some intensity with us to Hart County,” he said. “We threw some kids that hadn’t thrown in a while. It was good to see them do well.”
In the pivotal third inning, the Raiders notched runs with Eric Power scoring off an error, followed an RBI from Travis Calloway, an RBI from Stephen Seagraves off a fielder’s choice, an RBI single from Trey McCay and an RBI from Jonathan Pou off a fielder’s choice.
Madison County struck for two more in the fifth with two outs, getting an RBI double from Pou and a run-scoring single from Burkhalter.
The team then added their final run of the night in the fifth with Stephen Seagraves scoring off a wild pitch.
From the mound, Ben Jeffers got the starting nod and worked three innings, surrendering three runs off five hits while striking out three. Thad Pruett then came on two work the fourth and fifth and struck out five of the six batters he faced, helping him to work out of two bases loaded jams.
Nash came on in the sixth and ran into trouble, but Seagraves came in and retired the side before Dinsmore closed the deal in the seventh with three strike outs.
Madison County rallied for four runs with two outs in the fifth inning Thursday to down Eastside 4-1.
Dustin Dinsmore earned the win, turning in another strong performance. The senior pitched seven innings, fanning six and walking one, while giving up just four hits and one run on a seventh inning solo homer.
With two outs in the fifth, Trey McCay, who led the team with three hits on the day, reached first on an infield single. Courtesy runner James Smith then moved to second on a balk. Travis Calloway walked, with Chris Burroughs replacing him as a courtesy runner. Stephen Seagraves ripped a double down the right field line, scoring Smith. Burroughs then scored on a passed ball. Jonathan Pou then knocked home Seagraves with a single over the first baseman’s head. Pou stole second and came home a moment later on a throwing error to put the Raiders up 4-0.
Seagraves and Pou both finished the day with two hits and one RBI. Others with hits were Calloway, Eric Power and Brent Burkhalter.

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