Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
After a couple outfielders kept missing the cut-off throw during Thursday's workouts, Mundy's Mill coach Patrick Smith stopped practice to give a short, but to the point lecture.
When another outfielder lacked some hustle, Smith quickly demanded that he start running some laps.
Although the Tigers are ranked for the first time in school history, Smith will not let complacency sit in.
"Coach is always telling us that we haven't done anything," junior Corey Harmon said. "We got a long way to only. We have only played seven games, and there are 25 in a season. There is a whole bunch of baseball to play."
The Tigers are 7-0 overall and ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA in the latest PrepCountry.com/GACA Coaches Poll. Mundy's Mill is also 5-0 in region play.
With a solid pitching staff and six position players returning, Smith said the Tigers were expected to have a good season. Last season, Mundy's Mill missed the postseason by one game with several underclassmen in the lineup.
This season, Mundy's Mill has moved from Class AAAAA level, and play in a region consisting of mostly teams from Clayton County.
"The guys kind of felt something special about this season," Smith said. "We were young the past two years. These young guys have gotten a lot of experience."
Smith, who is in his eighth season at the school, said that the young players faced some stellar competition last season in Region 4-AAAAA, which included East Coweta, Chapel Hill and Newnan. He said that experience has proved to be invaluable to this season's squad.
Junior Jerek Wright has led the team from the mound with a 4-0 record and a 0.37 ERA with 27 strikeouts. At the plate, Matthew Wilson is hitting .444 and Rashad Crawford is batting .375 to lead the offense, which is scoring a region-leading 10 runs per game.
The Tigers have scored at least nine runs in five games this season.
A quick start has boost the teams confidence as they head to Montgomery, Ala., Saturday to play Anniston and Jeff Davis in a tournament. Smith said plenty of college scouts are expected to be in attendance at Gateway Park.
"I'm really pleased at the way we have started off," Harmon said. "We hope to finish strong, too. This has been a big boost starting strong. Our confidence is up, and we feel we can play with anybody."
The Tigers will get a big test in early April when they takes on playoff contender Redan. Although the Raiders are 1-5 this season, they have played against some of the top teams in the state.
Last season, Redan reached the Class AAAAA semifinals where they lost to eventual champion Lassiter.
Until the Redan game, the Tigers will continue in region play.
"We are taking a lot of pride in what we are doing this season," Wright said. "We are trusting in what coach Smith is teaching and telling us. We see that the hard work we have put into practice is really paying off this season."