The Troup Tigers have grown accustomed to being one of the last teams standing in the state playoffs.
They came into this season having made back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals, and before that they’d made numerous trips to the state quarterfinals.
Troup hadn’t missed the playoffs since the 2003 season.
That’s what made the 2014 season so disappointing for the Tigers, who ended up finishing fifth in Region 5-AAAA, leaving them on the outside looking in when the state playoffs began.
Adding to that frustration, two of Troup’s region losses came to Carrollton, which won the state championship on Monday.
In both of those games, Troup had a lead in the seventh inning, only to end up losing by one run both times.
There’s no time for looking back, though.
The Tigers have already started preparing for the 2015 season, with summer baseball getting under way this week.
The players got together for the first practice on Monday, and the first games are scheduled for today.
“Our preparation for next year starts now,” Troup coach Craig Garner said. “It’s a process, and it starts now.”
Garner said Troup will be fielding three teams this summer, and they’ll all be busy.
“We have three teams running this summer. I’ve got a JV team, and two varsity teams,” Garner said. “All three teams are playing 20 games apiece during the regular summer, and I’m going to take about 15 kids over to Auburn to go to a team camp.”
The Auburn camp, which will be June 13-15, will feature players expected to be a part of next year’s varsity team.
“Some of them couldn’t go, but it’ll be my main group of varsity kids,” Garner said.
Garner said one of the great benefits of the summer schedule is the chance it gives for some young players to go up against varsity-level competition.
During the spring season, players have to be in the ninth grade to participate in varsity sports.
There are no such restrictions during the summer, though, so a middle-schooler can play alongside high-school players.
“It gives some of these guys a chance in the summer, just to see how they do with varsity competition,” Garner said. “Even though they may be younger, and they may not even be able to play varsity next year, just to see how they interact is good.”