By Anthony Rhoads
The Georgia High School Association state baseball playoffs begin Friday and the Southern Crescent is going to be well-represented as Clayton County is sending three teams and Henry County five teams.
Here are some of my thoughts about the upcoming state tournament:
Ringgold at Jonesboro: The thing that really sticks out for me in this series is the fact that this state tournament is Don Corr's last hurrah at Jonesboro. The long-time baseball coach is leaving at the end of this year to take an assistant principal job at Etowah. While it's good career move for Corr, he will definitely be missed as he has built one of the most consistent high school baseball programs in the area but more importantly, he's given the young men who have played for him a foundation they can build on to be successful in the game of life.
East Paulding at Forest Park: If anyone had told me Forest Park was going to win the Region 5-AAAA championship this year, I don't think I would have believed them. It's not that Forest Park had a bad team but the program has had to deal with many issues on and off the field including getting a new head coach right before practice started. The team has put all the bad stuff behind them and achieved success beyond anyone's expectations this year. You have to admire what those kids and head coach Michael Breedlove have done this season.
Riverdale at Starr's Mill: Things that happened in 1988: George Bush Sr. was elected as president, Rain Man and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? were the biggest box office draws of the year, Michael Jackson's 'Bad' and Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite for Destruction' were two of the best-selling records of the year, CDs outsold vinyl albums for the first time in history, the greenhouse effect was discovered, and on the local sports scene, the Riverdale baseball team made it to the state tournament. After a 17-year drought, Riverdale has returned to the state baseball tournament.
Georgia Military at Eagle's Landing Christian: The Chargers finished second in Region 5-A and will be going to the state tournament in their first season in the GHSA. In their non-region schedule this year, the Chargers weren't afraid to play the big boys as they scheduled 11 games against teams in higher classifications. ELCA won six of those games with wins over Forest Park, Creekside, Rockdale County and MLK.
Henry County at Bainbridge: Troy Baker, who left Henry County after a long tenure as an assistant to Chuck Campbell and coached at Eagle's Landing for one season, returned to Henry County this year and has guided the Warhawks to a state berth.
Luella at Lee County: Andy Cooper is a good coach. When he was at Stockbridge, he took the softball team to the state tournament every year he was the head coach. Last year, he guided the Luella baseball team to the Class AAA state playoffs in its first year of existence. This year, he has led Luella to a 21-win season and a state playoff berth in one of the toughest baseball regions in the state.
Newton at Union Grove: For the past two years, Union Grove made the Class AA state playoffs and one of the questions going into this season was whether the Wolverines would be able to compete in Class AAAAA. The Wolverines proved they can play in the state's largest classification as they took second place in Region 4-AAAAA.
Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .