Greenbrier High School is not the dominant team it was the previous two seasons. How can a team lose Rich Poythress, Jeff Rowland, Brandon Cumpton and Chris Johnson and expect to be close to the team it was?
Well, the Wolfpack might not be the favorite to win it all this season, but it is still a contender. A team with Nolan Belcher cannot be counted out. The lefty is 44-1 in his brilliant high school career and has yet to lose a game to a Georgia school. Plus, he is 11-0 in the past two state tournaments.
If the Pack is going to make it three straight, it will need a couple of things to happen. First, it will need Patrick McGowan and Mitchell Knox to be on their A-game on the mound. It will need T.D. Davis and company to produce runs. In the past, the team could get a run or two and, with Cumpton and Belcher on the mound, the game was over. It will not have that luxury this time around, but I would not count this group out just yet.
Round 1 matchup
Greenbrier (20-6, 8-1) is host to Americus-Sumter (6-19, 3-9) for a doubleheader Friday. Game 3 is Saturday, if necessary.
Americus-Sumter has only three wins all year against class AAAA competition. It is in the playoffs because it plays in a four-team region, so it is automatically in. That is a topic for another column, but it's a rule that definitely needs to change.
Americus did post two wins against Thomas County Central, a team that won 17 games this season, but Greenbrier should have no trouble getting to Round 2.
Harlem at home
Harlem is in the midst of one of the finest seasons in school history. The Bulldogs are 20-4, with three of their losses coming to Greenbrier and a good Westside team. Harlem has won 13 of its past 14 games.
This team definitely has the offense to make a deep run, and it will have the luxury of home-field advantage as Region 3-AAA champs. Harlem has had many solid teams in the past 20 years or so, but the Bulldogs are going after their first state title in 22 years.
Round 1 matchup
Harlem (19-4, 9-1) is host to Worth County (12-13, 5-5) for a doubleheader Friday. Game 3 is Saturday if necessary.
Harlem has been hot all year, while Worth County has stumbled down the stretch -- losing 10 of its past 16 games.
Evans is back in the state playoffs again in 2008. The Knights certainly are a team you have to look at each year. They will have their hands full in Round 1, though. The Knights face a red-hot team, and they lack the pitching depth needed to make a title run. It is hoped the Knights can crank up the offense and make a deep run.
Round 1 matchup
Evans (14-11, 7-5 ) at Lee County (18-8, 10-2) for a doubleheader Friday. Game 3 is Saturday, if necessary.
Do not let Lee County's modest record fool you. The Trojans are solid each year, and 2008 is no different. They are probably better than their record might indicate. Lee County has won 15 of its past 16 games, and in those 15 wins has averaged 10 runs per game. This is a team that had to replace Jack Posey and Thomas Nichols from last season, but it does not appear to be missing a beat at the plate.
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