By Jeffery Armstrong
The high school baseball playoff scenarios are set and the Jonesboro Cardinals and four Henry County teams (Henry County, Luella, Stockbridge and Union Grove) will represent the Southern Crescent this weekend.
Two of the five teams will host playoff games and the other three will hit the road for extra baseball.
In the state's biggest classification, AAAAA, Jonesboro (17-9) is the No. 4 seed out of Region 2-AAAAA and will visit the city of Springfield to face the No. 1 seed Effingham County Rebels of Region 3-AAAAA Friday at 4:30 p.m. The "if" game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. Effingham (22-3) is the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
Just 13 days ago, Jonesboro was in first place and needed to win out to have a shot at the Region 2-AAAAA title. But the Cardinals ended the regular season with some tough losses, including one to eventual region champion Henry County, to fall to the fourth seed. The good news for Jonesboro is that Jonesboro has qualified for state in consecutive seasons and the playoffs are a new season.
"I've told the guys to focus on the positives. We've lost some close games down the stretch, like the 4-3 loss to Stockbridge and the 5-4 loss to Warner Robins," said Jonesboro head coach Don Corr. "We just couldn't string a bunch of hits together down the stretch. We hit balls right at people and hit a lot of popups as well."
Corr said Effingham County's team is similar to the Cardinals. He said the Rebels swing the bats well and play good defense. Four of their key players are shortstop Josh Wilson, third baseman Adam Hurst (Corr coached his older brother), left-handed pitcher/right fielder Norman Chatman and pitcher Adam Joiner.
"They're a very good team, but if we play like we are capable, there's no reason why we can't go there and win two on Friday," Corr said. "We do play a bit better on the road than we do at home."
The Warhawks of Henry County (23-3) are the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAAAA and will face the No. 4 seed Brunswick Pirates of Region 3-AAAAA Friday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. The state playoffs are a best-of-three series, with a double-header on the first day of competition and an "if" game the next day, should both teams split the double-header. Henry's "if" game will be Saturday, May 15 at 1 p.m. The Warhawks are the No. 3-ranked team in the state.
The other county team to host a playoff game will be the Union Grove Wolverines, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA. Union Grove will be home to face the No. 3 seed Calhoun Yellow Jackets of Region 6-AA Friday at 4 p.m. The "if" game is Saturday at noon.
The Stockbridge Tigers (15-11) are the No. 3 seed from Region 2-AAAAA and will have to make the trip to Jesup to play the No. 2 seed Wayne County Yellow Jackets of Region 3-AAAAA Friday at 5 p.m. The "if" game is Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Luella Lions (13-12) are in the state playoffs in the team's first year of existence and will be the fourth seed from Region 5-AAA. They will hit the road to face the LaGrange Grangers, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAA and the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAA, Friday at 4:30 p.m. The "if" game will be Saturday.