lagrangenews.com

The champs are waiting

By Kevin Eckleberry keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

May 12, 2014

Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard would love to see his team beat up on another playoff opponent.


Through the first two rounds of the Class AAA state playoffs, the Cavaliers have scored 50 runs, and they’ve given up zero runs.


That is the definition of dominance.


“I’d take that again, but I very seriously doubt we’ll get that,” Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard said.


After dispatching Central-Macon and Appling County with ridiculous ease, Callaway now turns its attention to a Cartersville team that is seeking its second straight state title, and its seventh championship since 2001 under head coach Stuart Chester.


It will be the Cavaliers’ toughest playoff test to date, and they’ll have to play on Cartersville’s home field.


Hubbard said his players will go into the series expecting close ballgames where each play could be the one that decides who wins, and who loses.


“The team that makes the least mistakes will usually win, especially when you get down to eight teams are left,” Hubbard said. “They can all play.”


While the task will be a tall one for the Cavaliers, they head into the series with plenty of confidence.


Callaway beat Central-Macon 10-0 and 15-0 in the first round, and it beat Appling County by the same scores in the second round.


The Cavaliers (24-5) have everything working.


They have a team earned run average 1.91, and their team batting average is .335.


Callaway has also been nearly flawless defensively in the playoffs.


The Cavaliers are the complete package, and shortstop Austin Garrett said “everybody is just buying into the same goal.”


“Everybody is playing as one, and nobody is playing selfish,” Garrett added. “Everybody’s hungry this year. We have a lot of experience, and we’re just ready.”


Cartersville, meanwhile, is where it always seems to be under Chester.


Under Chester, Cartersville has reached the final eight 16 times in 17 years, a remarkable level of consistency.


The Hurricanes have reached the ultimate goal six times, and they also lost in the championship series in 2004 to LaGrange.


Like Callaway, Cartersville hasn’t lost a playoff game, and it is coming off an impressive sweep of a strong Woodward Academy team in the second round.


The Purple Hurricanes had some bumps in the road early in the season, including a 1-3 record in the LaGrange Toyota Invitational, but they’re peaking at the right time.


The Cavaliers come into the series with no feelings of unease, though.


Cartersville has one of the state’s best programs, but this has been a special Callaway team, and the players believe there’s no one they can’t beat.


“We’ve been waiting on a season like this,” Garrett said. “Everything just feels like it’s coming together, is just clicking now. We’re ready to just keep winning and see how far we can go.”


CALLAWAY VS. CARTERSVILLE

WHEN: Today, 4 p.m. (doubleheader), Wednesday, 6 p.m. (if needed)


WHERE: Richard Bell Field, Cartersville


RECORDS: Callaway (24-5), Cartersville (21-9)


HOW THEY GOT HERE

ROUND 1

Callaway beat Central-Macon 10-0 and 15-0


Cartersville beat White County 3-2 and 14-3


ROUND 2

Callaway beat Appling County 10-0 and 15-0


Cartersville beat Woodward Academy 5-1 and 11-4