By Brian Paglia
There is a stark difference in a good baseball team and a good baseball program. Good baseball teams come and go from season to season.
Good baseball programs obtain longevity.
Looking back at the past five seasons with information available from Gasports.com, some baseball programs in the Southern Crescent exemplify the state of a good program more than others.
So with apologies to Ola, who in just its fourth year of existence is already a top-10 caliber program, here are the five most successful baseball programs of the past five years:
1. Eagle's Landing Christian
Record: 122-44 (.734).
The Chargers joined the Georgia High School Association in 2005 and promptly made the semifinals of the state tournament.
A year later, in 2006, they were state champs.
The next year they were state runner-up.
No other Southern Crescent team has won more games in the past five years, despite a losing record (13-15) last season with a young team.
But the Chargers still advanced to the second round for the fifth consecutive time.
And that young team has grown up -- ELCA is 11-2 overall and ranked No. 4 in Class A this season.
Record: 99-45 (.688).
Perhaps no Southern Crescent team has been more consistent the past five seasons than the Lions. They've never posted less than 18 wins in a season since 2005 and haven't missed the state tournament.
Last season, they were co-Region 2-AAAAA champs with Greenbrier and set a school record for wins in a season (22).
Luella hasn't skipped a beat this season: They're 12-5 overall, second behind Greenbrier in the region and just beat the No. 2-ranked team in Class AAAAA, East Coweta, on Monday.
3. Henry County
Record: 85-51 (.625).
Maybe baseball has changed at the McDonough high school, but it was at the epicenter of the game in 2005 when the Warhawks won 25 games and the Class AAAA championship.
For all their struggles of late -- Henry County won just nine games last season and are currently 4-8 -- the Warhawks haven't missed the state tournament the past five years.
4. Union Grove
Record: 82-59 (.581).
Aside from Luella, the Wolverines have been the most consistent program in the Southern Crescent. They've posted win totals of 14, 19, 18, 15 and 16 the past five seasons, and they've already won 12 this year.
Record: 68-61 (.527).
Despite a three-year hiatus from the state tournament and two losing seasons out of the past three, the Cardinals have the fifth most wins the past five seasons.
This season, Jonesboro is closer to its form of 2005 and 2006, when the Cardinals went 20-8 and 16-12, respectively. The Cardinals are 10-7 overall and 6-2 in Region 4-AAAA, poised to break that postseason drought.
On the cusp: Dutchtown, Mundy's Mill.