High School Baseball
EC riding 16-game win streak into postseason
by Doug Gorman
When the East Coweta Indians take the field today for the first round of the Class AAAAAA baseball playoffs at home against Colquitt County, veteran head coach Franklin DeLoach promises nothing new in how his team approaches this weekend’s best-of-three series.
“We aren’t going to try and reinvent the wheel,” he said. “We are just going to keep doing what we have been doing all along. We have been trying to come out here and get better every day.”
The series gets under way with a doubleheader starting at 3:30. A third and deciding game, if needed, would be Saturday for noon.
East Coweta captured the Region 3-AAAAAA title, finishing the regular season with a 20-5 record and a 14-0 mark in the region, winning it with just five seniors.
Colquitt County makes the long trek from south Georgia after posting a 14-11 record overall and finishing fourth in Region 1-AAAAAA with a 6-6 record. The Packers closed the year with three wins over their last four games.
East Coweta is on a streak of its own, however. All five of the Indians losses came in February and March when it dropped five of six games.
Since then, the team has won 16 straight.
East Coweta will have to continue play without senior outfielder Cam Smith, who expects to be out for the rest of the year after an emergency appendectomy.
“We know we can’t replace him,” DeLoach said. “We are glad even though he can’t play he is going to be on the bench supporting us.”
Other seniors have been down the playoff road before for the Indians, including right-handed pitcher Austin Bellamy, centerfielder Bryce Gemmel, first baseman Matt Meyer and catcher Austin Jones.
Bellamy has been the ace of the Indians pitching staff and has also given a lift to some of the team’s younger arms.
The Indians’ pitching rotation took a hit when Dalton Chocallo was sidelined for the year with an injury early in the regular season.
But a group that includes juniors Tyler Exley and Grant Treadwell as well as sophomores Thomas Leone and Mason Meyer have given the Indians valuable innings on the mound heading into the first-round playoff series.
In addition to how East Coweta was going to use its pitching staff, there were other question marks, but now DeLoach has settled in on a lineup that he is comfortable with putting out on the field as the team tries to capture the schools first ever state title.
“If you look at us now, as compared to the begin of the season, there are some differences. We have tried out different guys at different spots, and one of things we have to give credit to our guys for is being able to make those adjustments. That is really what good baseball players and teams are able to do.”
Matt Meyer began the season at third, but is now settled into first base.
Grant Simmon, Cary Holloway, Devonte Brown and Nick Pippin have stepped it up in the Indians infield.
Junior Makenzie Martin has been penciled in to replace Smith in the outfield.
“We have a lot of confidence in him, and we have some other guys who are playing in there too who are going to gets some reps too,” DeLoach said.
Outfielder Stephan Cruver will also get his first taste of the playoffs.
Sophomore Jaquez Williams is a solid designated hitter who has displayed an ability to hit the long ball.