Callaway’s offense looks a whole lot more potent when Kevin Craft is available.
Craft, a junior, came into the season expected to be a key cog in the Callaway lineup after a phenomenal sophomore season.
Craft had only played a few games, though, when he was sidelined with a back injury, and he ended up missing more than a month.
Craft is back now, and he had a pair of hits in a Game 1 victory over Southeast-Macon on Friday in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
“He’s getting there,” Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard said. “He’s looked really good the last two practices as well.”
Hubbard said it’s tough for a player to miss that much time during the season, and it was especially difficult on Craft since he couldn’t do anything while he was out of action.
“People don’t realize, you say you take two months off, but he took two months off not doing a thing,” Hubbard said. “He didn’t pick up a weight, he didn’t throw ball, and that’s tough. That’s hard to come back from. And he’s been going at it for about two weeks now, and you can see with every day his confidence is better. He’s feeling more comfortable at the plate. The biggest thing is, he feels confident that he’s OK.”
Afte the solid showing against Southeast Macon, Hubbard said Craft swung the bat well during practice on Monday.
“We intra-squadded yesterday with some of our younger pitchers, and he swung it really good,” Hubbard said. “It’s just getting his timing.”
With Craft available, it not only makes the starting lineup better, but it makes the bench stronger as well.
“If he’s in there, either C.J. (Gallatin) or (Cortney) Laye is on the bench,” Hubbard said. “And they can change a game, like C.J. did (against Central-Macon). It’s nice to have those guys.”
In Game 1 against Central-Macon, a game in which Craft started, Gallatin came off the bench and hit a grand slam in a 10-0 victory.
Gallatin went on to hit another home run in the second game.
Laye, meanwhile, is hitting .327 and has driven in nine runs.
PITCHING UPDATE: Pitching depth is a strength for the Cavaliers, but they’ve only had two use two pitchers so far in the playoffs.
In the first round against Central-Macon, Perry Keith and Nick O’Berry were the only two pitchers used.
Keith pitched six shutout innings in a 10-0 victory in Game 1, and O’Berry threw five shutout and hitless innings in a 15-0 win in Game 2.
Hubbard had plenty of arms available, but Keith and O’Berry went out and took care of business.
“We feel like we’ve got some guys we can throw out there and we’ve got a lot of confidence in,” Hubbard said. “More than likely there’ll be a time when you have to throw somebody else out there and see what you can do. I think those guys have done a good job keeping themselves sharp. They’ll be ready.”
Keith and O’Berry will likely get the two starts in today’s doubleheader against Appling County, and the Cavaliers will be in good hands with both of them.
Keith, who is the younger brother of Kane Keith, the staff ace from a year ago, is 6-1 with a 1.40 earned run average, and O’Berry is 4-2 with a 2.02 ERA.
If it gets to a Game 3, junior Cody Mimbs would likely get the call, and he has had a terrific season as well with a 4-2 record and a 3.43 ERA.
Mimbs threw a lot early in the season while O’Berry was getting in shape after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
Two other pitchers who could get the call in the Appling County series are Terry Godwin (3-0, 1.87 ERA) and freshman Dylan Johnson (3-0, 2.56 ERA).
“Perry has been as good if not better (than Kane Keith was last year), and Nick is getting back in the groove, and Cody Mimbs kept us afloat early in the year until Nick was able to get back,” Hubbard said. “And Terry has gotten so much better on the mound. And Dylan Johnson has made strides. He’s going to be a really good one. He’s just a ninth-grader.”
THREE-PEAT: It’s been a heck of a school year for Terry Godwin.
The Callaway football team, boys’ basketball team and baseball team all won region championships, and Godwin is the only player who was a part of all three teams.
The football and basketball teams followed up on their region titles by making it to the final four in their respective sports.
The baseball team needs to win two more playoff series to reach the final four.