It’s kind of hard to picture on a day when there’s snow and ice everywhere you look, but baseball season is almost upon us.
On Monday, which was a pleasant, spring-like day by the way, baseball teams were allowed to hold their first official practices according to Georgia High School Association rules.
The Callaway, LaGrange and Troup baseball teams each hit the field to continue the preparations for a season that begins in just a few weeks.
It’s a process that, for all three teams, has been going on since the 2013 season ended.
First came summer baseball, and then came the off-season workouts, and now comes preseason practice.
And soon enough it’ll be time to kick off a new season, and let’s hope the winter weather we’ve had to deal with the past few weeks is a thing of the past by then.
The first chance to watch a ballgame will be on Feb. 14 when Callaway hosts LaGrange in a preseason game.
The season’s first official game will be on Feb. 18 when LaGrange hosts Hardaway.
Troup will take the field on Feb. 19 when it visits Newnan, and Callaway kicks off its season for real on Feb. 21 at home against Pacelli.
So how will things unfold?
Will the Troup Tigers, despite massive roster turnover, be able to make another run at a state championship?
The Tigers have fallen in the state semifinals the past two seasons, and both times they lost to the team that went on to win the state championship.
The Tigers lost so many key players, most notably on the mound with stalwarts Garrett McClurg, Jacob Ozley and Jarred Adams moving on, so it’ll be a challenge to maintain the level of success they’ve enjoyed the past few seasons.
Head coach Craig Garner has shown he knows what it takes to put a winning team on the field, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this year’s team enjoy another strong season, and perhaps even make another playoff run.
There’ll also be a lot of new faces at LaGrange High, with Todd Herrington heading into his second season as head coach.
LaGrange was hit hard by graduation, and a new group of players will try to get the Grangers back in the state playoffs after they missed out a year ago.
Herrington has been working hard with these players since last summer, and he’ll have the Grangers ready to go when the season kicks off.
At Callaway, there were some noteworthy personnel losses from a team that made it to the second round of the state playoffs, but there are also a bunch of terrific players returning.
One of those players, ace pitcher Nick O’Berry, is recovering from offseason surgery, and while he won’t be ready to go at the start of the season, he should be ready to go before too long.
With O’Berry back and with veteran coach Dusty Hubbard at the helm, the Cavaliers will definitely be one of the teams to watch in Class AAA.
It’s almost time to play ball, and I can’t wait.
BIG DAY APPROACHES: For a handful of local players, one of the biggest days of their lives is coming up one week from today.
Signing day 2014 is on tap for Wednesday, Feb. 5, and players from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup will be signing their letter of intent to play football for their chosen college.
These colleges will be getting some talented and dedicated players, and best of luck to all of the local athletes preparing to take that next step.
I’ll have full signing-day coverage next week, and check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LDNnews, or on Twitter @lagrangenews
GOOD LUCK COACH: I was happy to see that Steve Pardue, the former LaGrange High football coach, is returning to the high-school game.
Pardue was the LaGrange coach for 17 years, and his teams won three state championships and came close to winning a number of others.
On Monday, Pardue was named the head football coach at East Coweta, and that program is getting a heck of a coach.
Pardue spent a couple of seasons as an assistant coach at Kentucky, and now he’s returning to an arena where he has enjoyed so much success.
He’s taking over a program that has had a couple of disappointing seasons, but has a strong tradition.
East Coweta is getting a coach who knows how to build a winner, and the sky is the limit for the East Coweta program.