Callaway, Heard play for region title

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – They’ve lost one game between them over the past month, and they’ve steamrolled every region opponent in their path.

The Callaway Cavaliers and Heard County Braves, two seemingly immovable objects, will meet this week with Region 5-AA supremacy on the line.

Callaway and Heard County have matching 9-0 region records, and they will play three times this week, once today, and twice on Friday.

The team that wins two or more of those games will be the region champion, while the loser will be the region’s number two seed for the state tournament.

Both teams are hot.

The Cavaliers (17-7 overall) fell to 5-7 with an extra-inning, 2-1 loss to Troup on March 6, but they’ve strung together 12 consecutive wins since then.

The Braves (17-5) began the season with three straight losses, but they’ve only lost once since, and they’ve won nine in a row.

Both teams have encountered little opposition in the region.

The Cavaliers have won each of their region games by at least five runs, and they outscored the Jordan Red Jackets 39-10 in their three games last week.

It’s been mostly the same story for Heard County, although it did find itself involved in a close game against Temple last week.

In Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader, Temple had a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning, but Heard County rallied for a 7-6 victory.

In Game 2, Heard County’s offense exploded in a 21-6 victory.

A strength of Heard County’s team is an offense that is putting up more than 10 runs per game.

Heard County has a team batting average of .378, and one of the top hitters is senior Ethan Brant, who had 5-for-9 in Friday’s doubleheader.

On the mound, one of the Braves’ top performers is Auston Wilson, who won his team-best seventh game on Friday.

For Callaway, the pitching has been superb all season.

The Cavaliers allow fewer than four runs per game, and the staff is anchored by senior right-hander Josh Hanson, who has been a lock-down pitcher nearly every time out.

Junior right-hander Chandler Lott has also been terrific in his first season at Callaway, and he showed how dominant he can be during the 2-1 loss to Troup when he pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings.

Senior left-hander Dylan Johnson, who has ample experience in big games in baseball and football, will likely get one of the three starts this week.

Johnson has done solid work in a starting role this season, and he has also been effective out of the bullpen.

In two one-run wins over Handley (Ala.), Johnson was on the mound at the end to get the saves.

Callaway’s offense has done its part as well, averaging more than eight runs per game.

The Cavaliers have been in double digits in runs in four consecutive games, and they’ve scored 11 or more runs in 11 games.

Against Jordan last week, everyone who came to the plate contributed something, whether they were hitting a home run or getting down a sacrifice bunt.

In Friday’s doubleheader, Hanson hit his second home run of the season, while Johnson hit his first.

Senior outfielder Ben Griffin, who has two home runs this season, had a big week, as did leadoff hitter Drake Wade.

Slone Raper, Braelin Mitchell, Milton Turner, Trent Sheppard, Wesley Marchman, Lott, Kyle Campbell and Bryce Kurian were among the other players who contributed at the plate during the Jordan series.

“We’ve been working hard in the cages, and everything is just clicking, everybody is focused at the plate,” Hanson said. “Everybody’s getting quality at-bats.”


WHEN: Tuesday at Heard County, 5:30 p.m.; Friday at Callaway, 4:30 p.m. (doubleheader)

RECORDS: Callaway – 17-7 overall, 9-0 in Region 5-AA; Heard County – 17-5, 9-0 in Region 5-AA

ON THE LINE: The winner of the series will be the region champion, while the loser will finish second