By Jeffery Armstrong
Some of the goals the 2004 Jonesboro Cardinals baseball team set for themselves at the beginning of the season was a 20-win regular season and the Region 2-AAAAA title.
They didn't reach those two goals, but they had a successful season nonetheless.
Despite the blowout losses in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs which ended their season, the Cardinals have nothing to be upset about. In fact, there were no emotional breakdowns, no players consoling each other and no extremely sad faces after Wednesday's blowout losses to the Starr's Mill Panthers.
Although they weren't happy with the losses, the Cardinals looked like a team that knew they belonged on the same field with the Starr's Mill Panthers and any other team in Class AAAAA.
"The seniors on this team set the bar high for the upperclassmen to follow," Cardinals head coach Don Corr said Wednesday.
The bar is indeed high for the upcoming Jonesboro teams, especially after this 2004 season. The 2004 Cardinals won 13 of their first 14 games, en route to a 19-11 finish.
They contented for the region championship until April 28, exactly one week before the regular season ended. Senior pitcher Ty Lewis set the team saves record this year with four.
And when things looked their bleakest n Jonesboro losing its last four games to fall to the region's fourth seed n all the Cardinals did was defeat the No. 1 team in the state, Effingham County, in two straight to advance to the second round.
Jonesboro was a strong hitting team all season long, and there were only a few games where it didn't hit well.
The Cardinals were at the top of the region standings in hitting during the regular season, but in the state playoffs, hitting was at a minimum for them. Jonesboro managed 20 hits in its four playoff games; 16 in the Effingham sweep.
Out of those 20 hits, only four were for extra bases (they were doubles).
In contrast, Starr's Mill erupted for nine doubles, a triple and a home run in the two games against Jonesboro on Wednesday.
Leading hitters for the Cardinals in state playoff action were seniors Branan Norsworthy (4-for-9, .444 batting average), Alford Arnold (4-for-11, .364) and T.J. Russo (4-for-14, .286). Arnold had two of the team's four playoff doubles.
Jonesboro was the only Clayton County team to make it to the state playoffs this season.