Race to playoffs in full swing

Photo by Brian Paglia
Luella senior Kendall Hill is part of a Lions pitching staff that has the team currently in first place in the Region 2-AAAA standings heading into the final week of the regular season.

Photo by Brian Paglia Luella senior Kendall Hill is part of a Lions pitching staff that has the team currently in first place in the Region 2-AAAA standings heading into the final week of the regular season.

Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman is thankful that he has a large contingent of players that can pitch.

The Cardinals will need every available throwing arm in the final week of the season as they battle Mundy’s Mill for second place in the Region 4-AAAA standings. Jonesboro took on Mount Zion on Thursday and plays North Clayton today.

But next week is where the added pitching arms will come in handy. The Cardinals play each day next week except Tuesday to close the regular season.

Mundy’s Mill and Jonesboro are in a tight race for second place in the standings behind Lovejoy. The top two teams from the region get to host first round playoff games in a best-of-three series against teams from Region 3-AAAA.

“It’s going to be a dogfight with Mundy’s Mill,” Maehlman said. “We can go anywhere from second to fourth in the region after next week. We will play a lot of games in the next week, but this is a situation the kids have been in before.”

Here is a look at the regions with teams from the Southern Crescent:

Region 2-AAAAA

After hitting a four-game losing streak in late March and early April, Luella has recovered to win three straight heading into today’s contest against Newnan. The Lions are in first place with a two-game lead over Newnan. If Luella wins one of its last two region games, the eighth-ranked Lions clinch the region title.

Luella travels to Newton on Tuesday in its region final before closing the regular season at Pike County on Wednesday. Last month, Luella defeated Newnan (7-5) and Newton (12-1).

Pike County, a Class AA school, defeated the Lions, 2-1, on March 28 to start a four-game losing skid, which was snapped by a 2-1 win over Westlake last week.

Region 3A-AAAA

Union Grove will be the top seed from the subregion in next week’s region playoffs, regardless of today’s outcome at Starr’s Mill. The 10th-ranked Wolverines (17-5, 10-2) eliminated all possible tiebreakers with their 4-3 victory over Ola on Wednesday.

Jones County and Alcovy also advanced out of the sub-region into the region playoffs.

Union Grove has gone 2-3 against teams from Region 3B-AAAA, though none of its three losses has been by more than three runs.

Region 4-AAAA

If Lovejoy can avoid a major collapse, the Wildcats will clinch the region title and the No. 1 seed for the state playoffs. The Wildcats are sporting a 16-0 region record heading into today’s game against second-place Mundy’s Mill, a team they defeated 5-4 in early March.

Of Lovejoy’s five remaining regular season games, four are against region competition. After Mundy’s Mill, the Wildcats take on North Clayton (Monday), Banneker (Wednesday) and Creekside (April 27).

The non-region game is against Eastside, a playoff team from Region 4-AAA. The Wildcats are 0-3 so far this season against non-region opponents with two losses to Stockbridge and a loss to Newnan.

Region 4-AAA

Stockbridge and Locust Grove played in a winner-take-all game on Thursday for the final playoff spot. Stockbridge entered the contest with a one-game lead over Locust Grove, which won the earlier contest between the two schools. A 7-0 win by Locust Grove clinched the final playoffs in the region for the Wildcats.

Stockbridge was looking for its first playoff appearance since 1998, while Locust Grove has reached its second straight playoff appearance.

Region 9-A

Eagle’s Landing Christian is still in a position to clinch first place in Region 9-A. The ninth-ranked Chargers are a game behind Landmark in the region standings with Landmark having won the earlier match-up last month.

ELCA must defeat Paideia today at home to set up a showdown with Landmark on Tuesday at home. The Chargers defeated Paideia 8-6 on March 20.

Landmark won the earlier contest against ELCA, 5-1, on March 21. The War Eagles played Strong Rock on Thursday. After the ELCA game on Tuesday, Landmark will close the season against Class AAAA opponents New Manchester and Chapel Hill.