High School : : General
Thursday, May 05, 2011

Georgia Playoff Preview

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        

PG High School takes a look at all 5 classes of GHSA Playoffs. Georgia state playoffs begin Friday as teams play best of three series starting with double-headers Friday and possible 3rd games Friday. Round two is also a three-game series and begins Wednesday May 11.

Quarterfinal series begin on Tuesday May 17, with semifinals May 23, before the state championship series begins Saturday May 28.



The Favorites

Brookwood- One of the top teams in AAAAA all year, they ended strong, winning nine of their last 11. IF Nick Moore and OF Trey Martin lead the offense. A tough first round contest with North Forsyth will be an early test.

Lassiter- The Trojans lost five of six during a midseason lull but came back with an 11-game win streak. They are a veteran team with an explosive offense led by 2B Nelson Ward, C Reed Anthes, and 1B Wes Burns.

Luella- With SS Julius Gaines and OF Vincent Jackson the Lions lost just six games during the regular season and were a fixture in PGs Southeast Regional Rankings.

Mill Creek- The Region 7 #1 seed is a veteran squad led by C Jerad Curry and RF Casey Parham. They come into the playoffs on a seven game winning streak, including impressive victories over Collins Hill and Columbus.

Parkview- A member of PGs Preseason Top 50 the Panthers struggled early losing five out their first eight. They recovered to win 16 of their last 18 to earn the Region 8 #1 seed as well as the top ranking in the last GACA Coaches poll.

Players to Watch

Sam Bragg, RHP, Wheeler- A consistent top performer at PG events over the last three years, he has topped out at 91 and could be the key for Wheeler as they face Duluth in first round play.

Julius Gaines, SS, Luella- Could be the best defensive SS in the 2011 class, he is also an excellent hitter and the Lions top pitcher.

Matt Olson, RHP/1B, Parkview- One of the top two-way players in the state. A power bat from the left-side and a high 80s arm could help the Panthers go a long way in May.

Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood- A power arm that could be the key to Brookwood’s postseason. The Clemson commit has been up to 91 at past PG events.

Nelson Ward, IF, Lassiter- A standout for one of the best offenses in the state, the left-handed batter is one of the best pure hitters in the state.

Toughest Roads

East Coweta- The Indians started the year with 11 straight wins and will need to get hot again down the stretch. Their first round opponent is North Cobb, followed by the possibility of facing a very tough Colquitt County team.

Hillgrove- The Hawks were very strong all year, and ended with six straight victories. They open the postseason with Westlake and a possible second round matchup with Tift County.

Lassiter- They open with a tough series against Peachtree Ridge and LHP/1B Jared Walsh. If they can get by the Lions they will face the winner of the Brookwood/North Forsyth series.


Newnan- The Cougars played very well of the season’s second half, picking up wins over East Coweta and Luella. They are led by RHP/1B Marc Frazier and SS Alex Hand, and open the postseason vs. Kennesaw Mountain.

Tift County- A very talented young team that was strong all year, going 18-7. A young player to watch is freshman OF Alex Abbott.

PG’s Pick

There has been no dominant team in AAAAA this year and the depth and competitiveness of all eight regions make it a very tough pick. Luella with the trio of SS/RHP Julius Gaines, OF/LHP Vincent Jackson, and 3B/OF Chase Scott, as well as IF Darius Jennings and IF Eric Pape look to have one of the most talented teams and have been consistent all year. They start their possible title run against South Cobb, followed by the winner of Camden County/Coffee.


The Favorites

Kell- The Longhorns bounced back after an 8-18 2010 season to go 20-6 with a talented young squad. They are a team to watch this postseason as well as next year.

Loganville- The Red Devils lost only three games in the regular season and look to make a long postseason run. 1B Chance Bridges and LHP/OF Kenneth Anderson are two players to watch.

Marist- The defending AAAA champions have experience and lost only three games during the season (to current national #2 Flanagan, FL, Mill Creek, and a 1-0 loss to AAA powerhouse Columbus). RHP Blake Stevens and Duke commit IF Andy Perez are two of the top performers.

Wayne County- A dominant, undefeated regular season has the Yellow Jackets up to #11 in the National Rankings. The team has tons of talented with OF Colby Dent, 1B Casey Kicklighter, and RHP Brandon Scarborough.

Winder-Barrow- A very talented team that threw two one-hitters within a week of each other in mid-April. They ended the year losing two out of three to Loganville. They are led by C Max Pentecost and brothers Dylan and Grayson Ivey.

Players to Watch

Travis Demeritte, RHP/IF, Winder-Barrow- A player to watch for the next two years, the sophomore was up to 89 this fall and has continued to impress during the spring season. Currently ranked #17 in the 2013 class.

Alex Hegner, RHP, Pope- The top pitcher for one of the hottest teams in the state. The Greyhounds will be tough to knock off with Hegner on the mound and C Connor Lynch behind the plate.

Brandon Liebrandt, LHP, Marist- One of the most important players for the Eagles in their quest to repeat. The Florida State commit is one of the best pitchers in the state.

Tyler Palmer, SS, Wayne County- Maybe the best player in the state this year, the Georgia commit has been the catalyst for the Yellow Jackets undefeated regular season.

Deion Williams, SS, Redan- Loganville will have the tough task of keeping Williams off the bases in their first round match-up. He is also a top-notch defender at SS.

Toughest Roads

 Loganville- Another top region seed that will have a tough toad. Redan is the first round opponent, with Kell possibly looming after that.

Pope- Chattahoochee is a pesky first round opponent and it will only get tougher as Winder-Barrow could be the next foe.

Wayne County- It will be tough for the undefeated streak to continue with a first round matchup against Lovejoy and Whitewater possibly in round two.


Lee County- Went 15-10 during the regular season, a first-round matchup with Jones County looms. A player to watch is C Chase Griffin.

Warner Robins- The Demons dropped from AAAAA to AAAA this year and went 16-10. They start their playoffs against Ola with the winner facing the South Effingham/Creekside winner.

Whitewater- The dropped just six games in the regular season and could make noise in the playoffs. Led by C Joel Van Asch and OF Alex Liquori.

PG’s Pick

It is tough to pick against Wayne County team that hasn’t lost all year, but it looks like Marist is poised for their second straight title. They have the pitching with RHP Brandon Stevens and LHP Brandon Liebrandt and a very talented offense led by IF Andy Perez, IF Chesny Young, and C Anthony Sherlag.



The Favorites

Cartersville- After dropping their first two games to AAAAA powers Lassiter and Parkview the Purple Hurricanes rolled thru the rest of their schedule with only two losses, both to Allatoona.

Columbus- The defending AAA champions have not been as dominant as originally thought when they were #9 in the Preseason Top 50 Rankings. They lost six games during the regular season, but ended strongly by beating Marist 1-0. They may still be considered the favorite to win it all.

Ringgold- Any team with the pitching duo of LHP Matthew Crownover and RHP Colton Cross will be tough to be in a three game series. Riverwood is the first opponent, but a 2nd round series vs. Columbus looms.

Spalding- The Jaguars come into the playoffs #1 in the AAA Coaches poll, after ending the year 23-2. They rode a 21-game winning streak until losing their regular season finale to Troup. Pitching is their strong suit behind RHP Dylan Griffin and RHP Austin Hurt.

Thomson- On a 16-game winning streak heading into the playoffs. SS Nick Rau is one of the best hitters in the state. They also feature RHP Abram Cartledge and OF Will Tankersley.

Players to Watch

Kyle Carter, OF/LHP, Columbus- Top two-way player was the Player of the Year in the state last year. He has a 90 mph fastball and a great power/speed combo.

Matthew Crownover, LHP, Ringgold- Still a junior, but one of the best pitchers in the state. The Clemson commit works in the high 80s with his fastball with impeccable control of three pitches.

Luke Crumley, RHP, White County- The Georgia commit leads the Region 8’s #1 seed. He is a 90 mph arm with a projectable body that could lead to more velocity.

Hunter Horton, RHP, Cartersville- The ace of the Purple Hurricanes staff has a 6’7 220 pound workhorse build. They face Arabia Mountain before a matchup vs. LaGrange.

Nick Rau, SS/RHP, Thomson- A power hitter at the plate is also the top pitcher for a Thomson team that is getting hot at the right time.

Toughest Roads

Columbus- Franklin County is first, but then a matchup vs. Ringgold that could be the best series of the GHSA Playoffs regardless of class.

Gainesville- The Red Elephants lost four games in the regular season. They face a tough Troup team first with a potential matchup vs. Woodward Academy next.

White County- Carrollton in the first round will be a tough test, and an Allatoona squad that beat Cartersville twice and lost only three games on the year awaits in the second round.


Carrollton- White County will be tough in the first round, but Carrollton is a talented team led by OF DJ Robinson and IF Dallas Dickey.

Riverwood- The talent is there led by OF/RHP Lee Miller and RHP/C Nick Dias. The road will be extremely tough with Ringgold first and Columbus next if they advance.

Troup- A bit of an up and down season for the Tigers ended with big wins over Spalding and East Coweta. A first round matchup with Gainesville begins their postseason.

PG’s Pick

Columbus has been among the best teams in the state regardless of class all year. They have lost only four games against Georgia teams and ended on a high note with a 1-0 win over Marist. With Kyle Carter and Will Solomon on the mound and a talented offense, they are still the favorite to repeat as AAA champs.


The Favorites

Berrien- AFLAC All-American Larry Greene leads an offense that scored over ten runs 15 times in the regular season. Their only losses are to undefeated Wayne County and perennial AA contender Cook.

Blessed Trinity- The Titans lost 7 games but that number is deceiving. Three of them are to Florida championship contenders (McCarthy, Gulliver, and Florida Christian), two more are to AAAAA schools (Milton and Northview). Their other two losses are Westminster and Buford.

Buford- They dropped just three games during the regular season, and have a top pitching combo in RHP Jake Burnette and RHP Josh Heddinger.

Calhoun- The defending champions were not as dominant as last year’s 35-1 team but still may be the class of AA. A player to watch is junior RHP/OF Josh Schubert.

Pike County- They have won 21 straight games going into the tournament, their last loss coming March 4. OF Kody Adams is the leader of a very solid team.

Players to Watch

Palmer Betts, RHP/IF, Cook- Last year Kaleb Cowart led the team to a 31-5 record and state runner-up. Betts could be the next great player for the Hornets. He was one of the best all-around players at last December’s National Underclass Showcase.

Zach Boden, OF, Lovett- An offensive leader for a team that struggled at times, but showed it could put runs up on the board in bunches.

Chris Long, C, Pike County- A frequent name on the Who’s Hot List, Long has had a big year and looks to continue with a strong postseason.

Bret Marks, RHP, Blessed Trinity- The Mississippi St. commit is the pitching leader of one of the best teams in the state. He has been a consistent strong performer at PG events for East Cobb program.

Austin Norrell, RHP/C, Calhoun- Standout pitcher and catcher for the Jackets will be one of key cogs if they make a run to repeat.

Toughest Roads

Calhoun- The road back to state will be tough from the start this year. They face Temple, winners of seven straight in the first round, and then a huge matchup with Buford could be one of the most interesting second round series in the state.

Hart County- Winner of 12 in a row, they will have a tough road for the four more wins needed to advance to the final 8. Westminster is their first round opponent followed by the winner of Heard County and Dade County.

Pike County- The Region 4 number one seed faces Brantley County in the first round, and their second round battle against Cook will be hotly contested if both teams advance.


Appling County- Very talented young team, played very strong down the stretch, winning 8 or their last 11.

Lovett- Seen as one of the preseason favorites, the Lions lost ten games during the regular season. Pitchers to watch are RHPs Hunter Budd and Jack Geraghty.

North Oconee- The offense could erupt in the postseason led by OF Thad Glenn and IF Blake Gaubert.

PG’s Pick

Blessed Trinity has shown they can play with high level competition and have both the pitching depth and power bats in its offense to go all the way to the state title. The Titans also feature Wofford commit Matthew Pelt and a sophomore to watch in 1B/RHP Nate Maggio.


The Favorites

Aquinas- The Fighting Irish were Class A runners-up in 2010 and have the talent to back a return trip. Their only three losses were to AAA teams Thomson, Grovetown, and Cross Creek.

Calvary Day- A three-game losing streak in early May was the only blemish on the Cavaliers schedule. They enter the playoffs on a 19-game win streak.

Hebron Christian Academy- Lost only three games on the year, including a mid-season 20-game win streak. They open the playoffs vs. North Cobb Christian.

Seminole County- Did not lose a game to a Georgia school during the regular season. C/3B Samuel and SS Josh Buczek are two players to watch.

Wesleyan- Gunning for their 4th straight title, they struggled at times but look to make another team postseason run. They had big early season victories over AAAAA South Gwinnett and Eagle’s View (FL).

Players to Watch

Skye Bolt, OF, Holy Innocents- The North Carolina commit is an exciting switch-hitter who can really run and throw. Tools and performance are both exceptional.

Sam Few, 1B, Aquinas- A strong powerful batter with big-time power, just one member of a very talented Irish offense.

Danny Lockhart, SS, Hebron Christian- The leader of an explosive offense, the SS is a Kennesaw State commit and is one of the best hitters in the state.

Cole Miller, 1B/LHP, Darlington- Just a junior, but already one of the best two-way players in the state. Georgia Tech commit.

Pete Nagel, RHP, Metter- A pitcher that could lead Metter to a couple of series wins with a power arm that has produced a FB up to 90 mph. Georgia commit.

Toughest Roads

Darlington- A very talented team, they face Commerce in the first round, before a possible matchup with 3-time defending champ Wesleyan. A look ahead to the third round could foresee Hebron Christian.

Hebron Christian- North Cobb Christian will be a tough first round opponent with the winner of the Landmark Christian and Holy Innocents.

Metter- Baconton Charter is the first opponent, but a second round match with Hawkinsville looms.


Brookstone- A streaky team all year, if they can get hot at the right time they will be tough to beat. They come into the playoffs with a four-game winnings streak.

Charlton County- SS/RHP Aubrey Shivers has been a standout all year for a very solid Indians team. They could make some noise in the postseason. Hawkinsville is their first test.

Schley County- A first round match with Lanier County will be tough, but the Wildcats have experience, and a junior to watch in C Jett Captsias.

PG’s Pick

Hebron Christian has consistently been a top team in the state, showing an offense that can put 15-20 runs on the board, and a pitching staff that threw nine regular season shutouts. Look for the Lions to go all the way this year.

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