Darton eyes title

By Kevin Eckleberry

May 14, 2014

At Callaway High, Tavin Thompson was no stranger to making deep runs in the postseason.

Now that he’s in college, Thompson is once again helping a team make a nice tournament run.

Thompson and his teammates on the Darton College baseball team will begin play in the East Central district tournament today at Georgia Perimeter’s Jaguar Stadium.

The winner of the four-team tournament will advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series.

Darton finished second in the Region XVII tournament last weekend to earn a spot in the district tournament.

Thompson, a third baseman, is a key reason why Darton (42-18) has enjoyed one of the best seasons in the history of the program.

Thompson has been a key offensive contributor, and he was also the top defensive third baseman in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.

A Gold Glove team was announced after the regular season, with awards given to the top defensive players at each position.

At third base, Thompson was the selection.

In the region tournament, Darton won back-to-back games on Friday to make it through to the championship game.

A pitching-depleted Darton team ran out of gas and lost to Georgia Perimeter 13-3 on Saturday, but it didn’t keep the team from making it to the district tournament.

“Of course you are never happy to lose a championship game like that,” Thompson said. “But we get to go on and play another week. The season isn’t over yet, and we still have a chance to move on. We aren’t done.”

Thompson did his part in the loss, going 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.

On Friday, Darton beat Gordon College 3-2 and Middle Georgia 7-4 to reach the championship game.

The four teams in the district tournament are Darton, Georgia Perimeter, and two teams from Tennessee, Motlow State and Columbia State.

The double-elimination tournament will run through Saturday.

The World Series begins on May 24 in Oklahoma.

SOFTBALL: Khadija Neely, a sophomore from LaGrange Academy, is trying to help Chattanooga State win a second national championship in three years.

Chattanooga State opened its stay in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship with a 10-1 win over Darton College on Wednesday.

Neely, a third baseman, had a hit and an RBI to help Chattanooga State roll to the easy win in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament.

The tournament, which is being played in Utah, concludes on Saturday with the national-championship game.

In 2012, it was another former LaGrange Academy player, Marina Wilkerson, who helped Chattanooga State win it all.

Now it’s Neely putting up huge numbers for a team perhaps on the verge of claiming a national title.

Neely boasts an impressive batting average of .414, and she has 10 home runs and 47 RBIs.

Neely has been red-hot of late, and she has an eight-game hitting streak, and she has driven in at least one run in 10 of the team’s past 12 games.