Mundy's Mill coach Patrick Smith will take his fifth-ranked team to Stone Mountain Saturday to take on traditional power Redan in a game. Last season, Redan reached the Class AAAAA semifinals, but has struggled some this season.
By Derrick Mahone
When Mundy's Mill coach Patrick Smith coached at Stephenson High, he considered Redan's coach Marvin Pruitt to be his mentor. Smith replaced Pruitt at Stephenson, where he started the baseball program from scratch.
"He left me with a good situation at Stephenson," Smith said. "We go a long way back. He has always been a good friend, and was willing to help me."
This weekend, the two will put their friendship aside as Mundy's Mill travels to DeKalb County to take on Redan in a non-region game Saturday. Smith said this will be a good measuring gauge for his fifth-ranked team.
Last season, Redan reached the Class AAAAA semifinals, where it lost to powerhouse Lassiter. The Raiders (5-6) have struggled this season in Region 6-AAAA, but Smith still calls them a contender.
Four of the Raiders' six losses have come against ranked teams.
"This is definitely a pride game because it is Clayton County against DeKalb County," Smith said. "We will be playing against a traditionally powerhouse in Redan. We will definitely be measuring ourselves against them. It will be a playoff-caliber type game."
Smith expects to use all three of his pitchers in the contest. He said that senior Anthony Hammonds (4-1) will get the start and be followed by juniors Jerek Wright (5-0) and Corey Harmon (2-0).
"They will all get some work in," Smith said. "Our approach will be to treat it like a playoff game. I'm going to put my best on the mound and rotate our pitchers. I want them to be ready when we pick back up in the region next week."
Mundy's Mill last playoff appearance was in 2008, when it reached the second round. Off of that team, the Tigers had a player drafted and five to sign college scholarships.
None of the current players have any postseason experience. Last season, Mundy's Mill missed the Class AAAAA playoffs by one game. The team is currently 13-1 overall and 10-0 in Region 4-AAAA. It's only loss was last month to Carver High of Montgomery, Ala.
Dating back to last season, Mundy's Mill has won 14 straight games against team from Georgia. Its last loss to an in-state team was April 23, 2010 in 7-8 loss to Creekside in eight innings.
Smith said springbreak came at a perfect time for his group as it has reached the midway point of the season. He gave the players three days off before they returned to the field for practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.
"They came back really excited about playing," Smith said. "We had some long, but good practices. I know the kids are excited about the second half of the season."
The Tigers pick back up in the region on Tuesday when they make the short trek to Lovejoy for a key region contest. Lovejoy has three losses in the region, and a win by Mundy's Mill would stretch its lead.
"We felt at the beginning of the season we could be in a good position at this point in the season," Smith said. "The last three years, our juniors have taken their lumps against some pro-caliber pitchers when we were in Class AAAAA. They guys are not intimidated."