Last updated: May 01. 2014 3:05PM - 568 Views
By Kevin Eckleberry

Perry Keith has enjoyed a terrific junior season with a team high five wins.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
Perry Keith has enjoyed a terrific junior season with a team high five wins.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
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They accomplished everything they set out to do in the regular season by winning 20 games and capturing a region championship.

Now the Callaway Cavaliers will try to achieve some new goals with the start of the Class AAA state playoffs.

The Cavaliers will host the Central-Macon Chargers in their playoff opener on Friday.

The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m., and if needed, a third and deciding game would be Saturday.

Callaway (20-5) earned its playoff invitation by winning the Region 4-AAA title, while Central-Macon (7-8) finished fourth in Region 2-AAA.

“We are confident,” said Perry Keith, a junior pitcher and infielder. “We feel really good that we can get through any series. We believe in each other.”

The Cavaliers rolled through the regular-season with just a few hiccups.

The Cavaliers, whose only region loss came against Central-Carroll, had won eight straight games before losing their regular-season finale to Harris County.

The pitching has been superb, with Keith, Nick O’Berry and Cody Mimbs leading the way.

Keith has been the ace of the staff.

Keith was an effective pitcher as a sophomore, but he has been lights out this season after adjusting his arm angle.

Opposing teams have had no luck figuring out Keith’s sidearm delivery.

Keith is 5-1 with a 1.57 earned run average, and he has thrown 49 innings, which is 17 innings more than anyone else on the team.

In a big win over Central-Carroll last week, Keith pitched seven shutout innings.

“He’s been a life-saver on the mound,” Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard said. “We honestly didn’t expect to get what we got from him.”

Keith said the side-arm delivery “is a lot more comfortable. I feel a lot better.”

O’Berry, a senior pitcher, said Keith’s ability to move the ball around has been a big key.

“Just being able to make the ball move, away and into a batter. That’s the biggest thing,” O’Berry said. “He’s stepped up and had a big role.”

Keith said the effort he made to improve himself during the off-season has paid off.

“I’m proud of myself. I’ve come a long way,” Keith said. “We put in a lot of work in the off-season. It’s been awesome.”

O’Berry teams with Keith to give the Cavaliers a potent one-two punch on the mound.

O’Berry, who threw a no-hitter against Rockmart last week, is 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA.

Mimbs, a junior right-hander, is 4-2 with a 3.43 ERA, and he would likely get a start if a playoff series went three games.

The Cavaliers have plenty of other pitchers capable of getting it done on the mound as well.

Junior Terry Godwin has three wins and a 1.87 ERA, and he gets it done with a fastball in the mid-80s.

“He doesn’t have much in the way of off-speed pitches, but if he can locate his fastball,” Hubbard said of Godwin. “He’s tough to hit because his fastball has so much movement.”

Freshman Dylan Johnson is also a key member of the staff, and he has three wins and a 2.56 ERA.

“All five of our guys we feel comfortable going with on a given day,” Hubbard said.

Callaway’s outstanding pitching staff has been backed up by a prolific offense that has a team batting average of .321.

One of the Cavaliers who has done a lot of the damage with the bat is senior outfielder Chase Freeman.

Freeman is hitting .351, and he leads the team with five home runs and 18 RBIs.

Hubbard said Freeman has come up big with junior Kevin Craft missing most of the season with a back injury

“He’s been kind of the mainstay there in the middle of the order with Kevin being out,” Hubbard said. “He’s had a really good year.”

Mimbs is also having a productive year at the plate with a .365 average, and he has 11 RBIs.

O’Berry is hitting .356, and he is second on the team with 16 RBIs, and he has two home runs.

Sophomore Cortney Laye is hitting .333 with nine RBIs, and Keith is hitting .321 with eight RBIs.

C.J. Gallatin is hitting .304, and shortstop Austin Garrett comes in just below the .300 mark with his .294 average.

Johnson has knocked in 10 runs, and senior catcher Colby Freeman has driven in seven runs on just six hits.

Callaway’s offense has received a boost of late with the return of two injured players, Craft and senior infielder Jaylen Colton.

Colton suffered a broken thumb in the first game of the season, but he is back now, and Craft took his first swings since early in the season against Hardaway last week.

The Cavaliers seem to have everything necessary to make an extended playoff run, but Hubbard said everyone’s focus at the moment is on Central-Macon.

Central-Macon comes in with a losing record, and it has struggled against the quality teams on its schedule, but it’s the playoffs, and anything can happen.

“You have to respect them. All you have to do is slip up,” Hubbard said. “There’s not a do-over.”

Hubbard said his hope is that the Cavaliers start quickly and keep the accelerator pressed down.

“You don’t ever want them to feel like they have a chance to win,” Hubbard said.

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