Cards set sights on No. 1

By Anthony Rhoads

Effingham County enters the Class AAAAA baseball playoffs as the No. 1 team in the state but the Jonesboro Cardinals aren't going to be intimidated.

Jonesboro travels to Effingham County Friday for a best-of-three series beginning with a doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. If necessary, game 3 will be at 1 p.m.

"It's a new season," Jonesboro senior Alford Arnold said. "They put their pants on one leg at a time leg everybody else. We can definitely beat them; it doesn't matter what rank they are."

Jonesboro enters as the No. 4 seed out of Region 2-AAAAA while Effingham is the No. 1 seed from Region 1-AAAAA. Effingham is also ranked No. 1 in this week's www.gabaseball.net state poll.

"It doesn't matter to me," Jonesboro senior catcher Chris Smith said. "We're going to play as a team, play hard and hopefully, come out with a victory."

Senior Josh Brown is confident Effingham can be beaten.

"Everybody's beatable," he said. "We're going to play our best and if we play as a team, we won't have a problem."

Jonesboro head coach Don Corr had a chance to see Effingham in action last Friday.

"They're a good ball club," Jonesboro head coach Don Corr said. "We're going to have to play extremely well. We're happy to be one of the 32 teams in the state tournament and all 32 teams have a shot to win."

Corr said one of the keys to the team's success this season has been teamwork. Several guys have stepped up this year into different roles and they've played well together.

"I've been impressed with the whole ball club," he said.

"The guys have come together and they're worked hard to get to this spot. We play ball as a team."

Jonesboro started the season on a six-game winning streak and was 13-1 going into spring break. The Cardinals went to Mississippi over the break and lost twice. When they got back, they lost to Henry County 7-6.

"I think the beginning of the year was a carry-over from last year," Corr said. "Things were going really well and then we hit a rough road going into spring break. We had some tough losses but hopefully those kinds of games will pay off for us at this time of the year."

Jonesboro remained in contention for the Region 2-AAAAA championship until the last week of the season but the team lost four straight games to drop to the No. 4 seed.

"I think they'll respond well," Corr said. "We've had a good week a practice; we've really had a good week so far."