By Rory Sharrock
Graduation Day is right around the corner, but, for the next four weeks, the Georgia High School Association Baseball Tournament is the talk of the town as players prepare for the pomp and circumstance of competing for a state title.
Six area schools, three of which are state-ranked, will be on display when the opening pitch is thrown to usher in the second season including Mundy's Mill, Henry County, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, Dutchtown, Luella and Union Grove.
All GHSA first-round games are scheduled for Friday, May 9 at various times. Mundy's Mill, Henry County, ELCA and Luella have home games during opening round of the playoffs.
Mundy's Mill (19-4, 9-3) concluded the best regular season run in school history. The fourth-ranked Tigers (Class AAAAA) are led by senior ace right-hander Quintavious Drains, who recently signed a scholarship to attend Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.
"I got my mind set to pitch very well and I know my defense will be behind me," Drains said. "We all worked hard to get to this point to try and win state. We want to be the first team at Mundy's Mill to do it."
Over the final two and a half weeks of the season, Mundy's Mill's bats were hitting the ball into orbit, posting double digit runs in four of five games.
However, the Tigers dropped two of their final three matches, including an 8-4 loss against Newnan in 13 innings, which cost them first place in Region 4-AAAAA behind East Coweta.
Mundy's Mill will host its first-round game at 5:30 p.m Friday against Union Grove.
"It feels good to be 19-4. It's new territory for us and the kids are creating a tradition around here," said Mundy's Mill head coach Patrick Smith. "They're (Union Grove) a pretty good team. We're going to approach it like we would any other game. We just want to turn up the intensity with our bats. We have to play and hopefully our pitching will sustain us and give us a chance."
The Henry County Warhawks (15-5, 13-2) won the state crown in 2005 and want to bask in the glow of victory once again in 2007.
Head coach Jason Shadden's talented group earned a spot in this year's tournament after sweeping Central-Macon 17-7 and 14-0 last month, during which both games ended before regulation. The Warhawks then beat Perry 7-4 before falling 5-4 versus Union Grove in the finale.
"I thank the Lord, for he's been blessing us," Shadden said. "We're still playing hard. We just have to hit the ball if we want to win state."
Henry County, which is currently ranked seventh (Class AAA) according to gasports.com, will make its march toward hanging up another championship banner Friday evening at home versus Northside-Columbus from Region 2-AAA.
Rounding out the local state-ranked schools is Eagle's Landing Christian Academy.
It was business as usual for the 10th-ranked Chargers (Class A) who finished 19-7 and 12-4 in league play. During one stretch from March 13 to April 10, ELCA won 12 in a row and scored in double figures seven times.
The Chargers host Georgia Military in a best-of-three series Friday as they begin their quest to win their second ring in three years.
ELCA's loaded roster is paced by seniors Wes Carter, Brian Moss and Jake Davies, who is the