Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local Sports

December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

Ryals’ hiring and THS’ subsequent turnaround is top local sports story

(Continued)

No. 3) Playoff success

The last time Thomasville High School had won a baseball playoff series, the Bulldogs won the state championship in 1999.

The fact that THS only won a first-round series May 4 didn’t dull the celebration at all.

Thomasville, which entered the Class AA playoffs as the second seed, needed a pair of comebacks to finally taste some playoff success against visiting Crawford County. THS rallied from a 6-1 hole before losing 11-10 in eight innings of the best-of-3 series. The Bulldogs promptly rebounded to win 8-2 to force the third game.

In the third game, Thomasville fell behind 4-1 before bouncing back to win 7-6.

“It hasn’t set in yet,” THS coach Erik McDougald said after the Bulldogs won their first playoff series since 1999, when THS won the Class AA state championship. McDougald was an assistant coach on that team. “That’s why it hasn’t set in yet. We’ve been close at times, and things just didn’t work out for us.

“To be a two seed and to win a home series, it’s awesome for these seniors but it’s also awesome for these underclassmen. To get a tase of that, and hopefully success breeds success.”

No. 4) Conference champs

One year after joining The Sun Conference, Thomas University got its first conference championship Nov. 16.

The TU men’s soccer team defeated SCAD 6-3 in the conference tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., to win the championship and secure the program’s first appearance in the NAIA national tournament.

The Night Hawks fell behind SCAD 1-0 just 14 minutes into the title game but rebounded for a 3-1 halftime lead. After the Bees cut the deficit to 3-2, TU quickly added three more goals to grab the crown with conference Player of the Year Rowan Liburd adding two of those.

A week later in the national opener, the Night Hawks dropped a heartbreaker 7-6 on penalty kicks to host Auburn-Montgomery.

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