By Anthony Rhoads
The Jonesboro baseball team has already made history in the 2004 season.
For the first time in school history, Jonesboro has qualified for the state tournament two years in a row.
"It feels great," Rashard Brown said. "It's a good way to end a high school career."
Jonesboro travels to Effingham County Friday for a best-of-three series to open the Class AAAAA state tournament. The series begins with a doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. Friday and if needed, the third game will be Saturday at 1 p.m.
"It's good to get back to state," senior Alford Arnold said. "It's always good go make state; everyone wants to go to state and we're one of the 32 teams."
This season marks the fourth time in school history the baseball team has made it to state. The Jonesboro baseball team first made state in 1951 and advanced all the way to the state championship before falling to Swainsboro.
After a 45-year drought, Jonesboro finally made it back to the state playoffs in 1996. That year, Jonesboro was the Region 4-AAAA runner-up and lost to Evans in the first round of state.
After making the Class AAAAA state tournament last year, expectations were high going into the 2004 season.
The Cardinals won their first six games and were 13-1 before the spring break.
The team remained in the race for the Region 2-AAAAA title up until the final week of the season. The Cardinals lost four straight games to close out the regular season.
"I think we're better than we were last year," senior Branan Norsworthy said. "I think we're better at everything. We're playing more as a team; we're just a better team all-around in all aspects of the game."
Tough region: Region 2-AAAAA was very competitive this season with several teams vying for spots in the playoffs.
The season, the region was more competitive across the board, Jonesboro head coach Don Corr said.
"I think the competition in the region was improved from top to bottom," Corr said. "Morrow won some games; Mt. Zion improved this year. I think the region was more balanced. It's a pretty tough region."
A look back: The last time a Clayton County team made state two years in a row was in 1993 and 1994 when North Clayton went to the Class AA state tournament.
Before those two seasons, North Clayton had gone to state in two consecutive seasons twice in its history. The Eagles made state in 1975 and 1976 and in 1982 and 1983.
(Historical information taken from ?The Best of Clayton County Baseball n A Brief History of Clayton's Greatest Teams' by Ira Kirkpatrick)