Three area baseball teams are in action on Friday.
Cairo at Americus-Sumter:
Cairo coach Ron Best has been as adamant as any coach that region games rank paramount.
That mentality has manifested into Cairo’s undefeated 4-0 record in 1-AAAA this year despite a 5-8 mark overall.
“Our track record the last seven years has been first or second place [in the region] and we’re doing our best to keep that streak going,” Best said.
Cairo plays its third game in three days when it treks to Americus-Sumter on Friday.
The last meeting between these two was practically over before it started. The Syrupmakers scored 14 runs in the first three innings with a pair of homeruns from Cage Cox, and another from Bailey Lewis. Americus mustered a score in the fourth, but the game was called due to the mercy rule in the fifth.
“We’d like to go up there and have a similar game,” Best said. “We’d like to get momentum going our way to begin with, and if that happens, hopefully we’ll get in a groove and be able to score enough runs to win the game.”
Best said he plans to employ a “Johnny Holstaff” pitching strategy, meaning he’s slated two or three aces for Friday spread over a few innings each.
“It’s kind of like we’re going to pitch our whole staff,” Best said. “It just depends on how guys are feeling tomorrow. We’ve got guys that are not necessarily overpowering, but can go out and throw strikes.”
The JV game begins at 5:30 p.m., and the Varsity squads will follow.
Seminole County at Thomasville:
Though this is a non-region game, coach Erik McDougald is treating it otherwise given that it will be next year.
“That’s in the back of our heads,” he said. “We’ve got to be thinking that we’re going to be seeing these guys in a game with stakes this time next year.”
The Indians and Bulldogs tee up for the first of two meetings in the span of five days.
Thomasville is coming off a 5-2 win over Pelham on Wednesday, and looking to build momentum as it heads to the thick of 1-AA play.
The Bulldogs are capitalizing on a recent lineup shift that has yielded a pair of wins and losses. What’s arguably paid the biggest dividends has been Payton Dixon’s shift to leadoff.
“He fits real well there. He has a good idea of what he’s doing,” McDougald said of Dixon. “He can get on and steal bases for you, and that gives us a good look from that leadoff.”
Oren King has assumed the two-hole in a “selfless manner” and Hunter Donaldson has taken the third spot because McDougald “really wanted him to hit in the first inning.”
Chapman O’Quinn, an atypical clean-up batter, has provided Thomasville speed and agility from the four-hole, which precedes Bayley Wright’s spot at No. 5.
“They’re guys that can get on and move around the bases,” McDougald said.
Thomasville spent all of Thursday’s practice, it’s first full session in over a week, working strictly on fundamentals.
Northside at Thomas County Central:
Thomas County Central desperately hopes to notch its first region win on Friday.
The Jackets will get two opportunities to do so, as they eye their first doubleheader of the season against Northside, a team it fell to, 9-0, in their 1-AAAAA opener on Feb. 28.
“I think our guys, they at least know what to expect [from Northside],” Central coach Chad Parkerson said. “They’re a very good team, and very well coached.”
Central (4-7, 0-5) dropped its fifth region game of the year in Wednesday’s shut out loss to Lee County. Parkerson said the Jackets returned to practice on Thursday with an upbeat demeanor.
Despite playing a three games in just as many days, Central sandwiched a simulated scrimmage on Thursday.
Parkerson said the Jackets focused on hitting with runners on base with hopes that it will translate after being outscored 37-11 during the last week.
“It made it competitive,” Parkerson said of the session. “The kids were bouncing around and enthusiastic about it.”
So what must Central do to get over the hump and secure its first region victory?
“Just play the game they’ve been playing since they were five years old,” Parkerson said of his squad. “It’s throw and catch; hit and run.
“We put what happened in the past. Hopefully we learned our lessons from it.”
First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. Jonathan Robinson will throw Game 1, and Peyton Singletary will take the mound in the finale.