After falling to Elbert County in the regular-season finale, the Banks County Leopards entered the Class AA state playoffs as the No. 3 seed.
The road through the state tournament started at Callaway High School. That’s also where the road ended.
The Leopards were swept 11-1, 8-6 in the first round of the state tournament. The Leopards finished the season with a 22-8 record.
Leopards’ skipper Peyton Hart called Callaway a “great team” that was “rich in experience.” Calloway had 10 seniors back from the previous year’s Final Four team.
“I thought that it was a great learning experience for us,” Hart said. “We had one kid with any type of playoff playing experience. To me, that was the biggest difference.
“We played tight in the first game, and props to them for jumping on us early. The second game was a little different. I thought we got back to who we were earlier in the year — tough, gritty, and playing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. We caught some tough breaks and just came up short.”
The Leopards had eight total hits but produced only one run in game one. Ty Davis led the team with two hits. Both were singles. Every Leopard hit was a single.
Ty Burchett, Justin Whitehead, Parker Hobson, Caden Cotton, Jonathan Moon and Tripp Williams had one hit apiece. Dylan Greenway had the team’s lone run.
In game two, the Leopards offense had 13 hits and 16 total bases. Burchett led the team with two singles and a double and one RBI. Williams had a double and a single and two RBIs. Whitehead, Hobson and Greenway also had multiple-hit games.
The Leopards will return nearly every player from this year’s squad. Davis is the lone senior on the team. Hart said the coaching staff believes the program made “major strides” this season.
“This was a tight-knit group, a very cohesive group, and it was huge for the younger guys in our program to see that and understand the importance of it,” Hart explained. “We are thankful for what Ty Davis has brought to the table for us, and we will miss him. However, we are excited about the group coming back and look forward to working this offseason on all facets of the game.”
Hart called 2019 a “good season” with all the improvements.
“We did improve a lot from last year and look forward to improving that much more,” Hart said. “We feel that this was not a ‘great’ season due to the lack of finishing where we wanted to in the region, and I believe that our players would tell you that. They wanted that region championship more than anybody did, and we will be back.”