Three area teams eye region play on Friday.
Thomas County Central at Hardaway
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a heartbreaking, 9-3 loss to Colquitt County on Tuesday as they head into Friday’s regional tilt with Hardaway.
After leading 3-1 for the bulk of the game, Colquitt’s Ross Goforth squandered any hope Central had when he smashed an eighth inning grand slam to take the lead.
“It was tough to swallow, but that’s baseball,” Central coach Chad Parkerson said. “The sun did come up the next day. There’s lessons to be learned.”
Parkerson added that he focused on instilling a closeout mentality during practice this week, and how that needs to carry over on Friday – especially in a regional contest.
“We need to make them earn everything defensively and not give them any gifts,” Parkerson said. “I don’t want to go in there and play five real good innings and then two to sleepwalk to it. Hopefully our guys will be focused.”
The Yellow Jackets sit at 4-3 after starting 3-0. More importantly, they remain winless in region play after last Friday’s 9-0 defeat to Northside-Columbus.
Parkerson noted the importance of not falling behind early in the season due to the catch-up effect.
“Our region is very good,” he said. “We’re going into every game trying to play our best. That’s all I ask of our guys; to not waste a day.”
This game last year was a 1-0 pitching duel in favor of Hardaway. Parkerson said he expects the same again this go-round – so much so that he wouldn’t reveal who he’s sending to the mound.
“It’ll be a lefty,” he said with a chuckle.
Americus-Sumter at Cairo
The Syrupmakers head into Friday’s tilt with Americus-Sumter on the heels of a tough Tuesday loss to Bainbridge.
Cairo led 2-0 until the final inning but allowed a game-tying two in the seventh and another in the eighth while going scoreless.
Cairo has endured a pair of games decided by two runs or less this season, and coach Ron Best knows that could be the case again on Friday.
Best attributed the Americus pitchers to “not walk a lot of guys” while keeping the score low. He acknowledged that hits are going to be vital to keep Americus honest.
But the plate has been the primary struggle for the Syrupmakers this season. Best’s bunch loaded the bases three times on Tuesday but could only muster the two runs.
“Usually that’s a good sign, but that’s only the case if you can score five or six runs off that,” Best said.
Cairo has worked extensively on offensive improvement since the start of the season, with much help from Mother Nature. It’s batting cage is covered opposed to others, and with the recent series of rainfalls, the Syrupmakers have spent more time than usual in the cage.
“The rain has been a curse and blessing in that regard,” Best said. “It gives us a little extra BP, which is beginning to show.”
Friday’s forecast calls for no rain by first pitch, but an early shower could force postponement. Best estimates he’ll have a decision to play or not by 1 p.m.
Early County at Thomasville
Friday’s game between the Bulldogs and Bobcats has already been pushed back due to weather.
The regional tilt will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Thomas University’s Varnedoe Field with conditions too swampy at the THS baseball complex.
The venue shift has also postponed Thomasville’s Military Appreciation Night, which will now take place during next Friday’s game against Brooks County.
“You’ve got to be flexible, that’s for sure,” Thomasville coach Erik McDougald said. “Weather has not been kind, and I’m afraid we’re going to get some more rain before this is all said and done.”
Thomasville heads into Saturday’s game coming off a 16-0 rout of Jefferson County on Tuesday.
McDougald, however, insists that his team is not yielding complacency. The Bulldogs are quite a green bunch, and taking steady steps towards offensive improvement.
“I don’t really think they took Tuesday’s ballgame in a cocky fashion,” McDougald said. “It felt like it was more of a ‘I finally felt good at the plate for a change’ kind of game. ... We don’t have anything to be cocky about.
McDougald will send the reliable sophomore Bailey Wright to the mound against what he expects to be an aggressive Early County lineup.
“I expect them to play their best game because they always do against Thomasville.
“But I’m very, very comfortable with Bailey Wright. Very comfortable.”