Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith said that teams from Region 4-AAAA are now “mentally ready” to have a good showing in the first round of the state playoffs. Last season, the region’s four playoff teams were swept in the first round.
After the first round of last season’s Class AAAA baseball playoffs, teams from Region 4-AAAA were done.
Yea, there were some close battles, but no wins.
This season, the four teams that will represent the region are confident that they can earn some state-wide respect.
“Somebody’s got to step up and do something,” Lovejoy coach Craig Chatman said.
“These are basically the same teams that went to the playoffs last season from our region,” Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith said. “They now have some playoff experience and know what to expect. They understand the tempo of the playoffs. I feel this region is mentally ready for the playoffs.”
Last season, Lovejoy faced nationally-ranked and undefeated Wayne County on the road. The Wildcats put up a good fight as they lost 5-1 and 8-2.
Chatman said that alone earned some respect, because his team was a decisive underdog.
“Many people thought we would drive down there and play a total of six innings,” Chatman said. “We played two compete games. I think the guys now know what to expect, but we know no one is going to lay down for us because we are the No. 1 seed.”
Mundy’s Mill’s last first round playoff series win came in 2008 when it defeated Union Grove in the Class AAAAA playoffs. Since then, first round playoff series wins for the region have been hard to come by.
Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said he re-evaluated the way his team played in its first round series loss to powerhouse Greenbrier last season. The Cardinals were swept 10-1 and 6-1 in the first round.
Maehlman said he had to put it in perspective that he was taking his first baseball team to the playoffs against a powerhouse program.
“At first look, it seemed if they had killed us,” Maehlman said. “Both games were pretty close. I felt my team played a darned good series and competed. I’ve been preaching to them that it’s the team that wins two of the next three games that keeps advancing.”
Although Mount Zion is making its first-ever state playoff appearance in school history, coach Kelcey White said his team is not going to be happy with just making the playoffs. The Bulldogs will face Region 3-AAAA champion Harris County, the fifth-ranked team in the state.
“We are not going to be satisfied with just going down there and playing two games,” White said. “These kids are really excited and expecting to win.”