Prep Baseball: Postseason playoffs start tonight for Coweta squads
By DOUG GORMAN
Some coaches refer to the playoffs as the second season.
This time, however, it's do or die for teams as they must win a two-out-of-three series to keep their state championship dreams alive.
Heritage School will start its GISA playoff run Saturday in its best-of-three series.
Newnan enters the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of Region 2-AAAAA and will host Tift County. The Blue Devils finished 12-14 overall and earned the No. three seed out of Region 1-AAAAA.
A year ago, Newnan advanced to the Class AAAAA Final Four before falling to Hillgrove.
Both East Coweta and Northgate open the playoffs on the road.
East Coweta beat North Cobb in the first round last year, but lost to Colquitt County in the next series to end its season.
Northgate took a first-round loss to Northside-Warner Robins.
That, however is all in the the past. This year, the Indians travel to Valdosta and take on Lowndes, while Northgate gets to stay a little closer to home when it journeys to meet Lovejoy in Clayton County.
The Cougars earned their right to stay home to open the playoffs after finishing the year with a 19-7 overall record and a 10-4 mark in the region.
Newnan played its way into the second seed with two victories over rival East Coweta to secure one of the two home playoff spots out of the region.
Opening the playoffs at home was one of Newan's goals.
"Your first goal is to make the playoffs," Newnan head coach Kenny Morris said last week after the Cougars closed out the regular season. "Then the second goal is to make the playoffs. Then you kind of build from there. We are hosting a playoff series, and that's great."
The Cougars hurt their chances to keep pace with region champion Luella with losses to M.L. King and Westlake.
Tift County comes into the contest with a 12-14 overall record. The Blue Devils struggled at times this season never winning more than two games in a row at any point this season. Their 7-5 record was good enough for third place in the region.
East Coweta hits the road after a year filed with ups and downs.
"We are just glad to be able to still be playing the great game of baseball," East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach said. "We know we are facing a good team with a lot of tradition."
The Indians handed Luella its only loss in Region 2-AAAAA, but still finished 14-11 overall and 10-4 in Region 2-AAAAA action.
Luella cruised to the region title with a three-game cushion.
"I see a lot of similarities,"Deloach said. "They have some good pitchers like us, but they don't have flame throwers. They have some pretty good bats. They are fortunate that they get to stay home. It is probably going to be hot down there, and that might work in their favor."
Northgate wasn't sure if it was even going to continue its 13-year playoff run until the last week of the season.
A 1-0 victory against McIntosh gave the Vikings the final spot in the Region 3-AAAA playoffs. From there, they beat Union Grove in a series that went three games.
"Everything finally came together, we hit the ball well, pitched well and got good defense,' Northgate head coach Greg Hamilton said after knocking off Union Grove in the region playoff. "We have been trying all year to get this going, and maybe now it's the start of something good."
Until beating Union Grove, Northgate had been on a three-game losing streak.
Twice during the regular season, Northgate pieced together four-game winning streaks.
Lovejoy dominated play in Region 4-AAAA, finishing the season with a 21-5 overall record and a 19-5 mark in the region.
The Wildcats had five shutouts against weaker Region 4-AAAA opponents. One of Lovejoy's losses came in its season opener when it dropped a 4-2 decision to Newnan.
Heritage School begins its quest for a GISA state title Saturday at noon when it hosts Gateway. The Hawks captured the Region 4-AA title and finished the regular season with a 16-3 overall record and a 10-1 mark in the region.
Heritage School earned one of the top seeds after knocking off Christian Heritage 8-4 in the Region 4-AA finals.
A year ago, Heritage School didn't get out of the first round after falling to Citizen's Christian.