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LaGrange baseball players honored

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – He was an on-base machine.

During the 2017 season, David Sweat was a fixture in the number two spot in the lineup behind Ben Anderson, and he excelled in that role.

Sweat hit .432, and he was often the offensive catalyst for a team that reached the semifinals of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

Sweat’s good work hasn’t gone unrecognized.

Sweat, who will be playing baseball for Marion Military Institute (Ala.) next spring, is a first-team selection to the Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine’s Class AAAA all-state team.

Three other LaGrange players, Ben Anderson, Jacob Vinson and Champ Willis, were second-team all-state picks.

As good as Sweat was in high school, and he hit .400 or better the past two seasons while also doing an outstanding job defensively in center field, head coach David Smart believes he hasn’t yet realized his full potential.

“His ceiling’s really high,” Smart said after Sweat signed his letter of intent with Marion Military.  “That’s one thing they really like about him. He’s really good now, but he’s going to be even better as he matures and gets older.”

Anderson, who hit in the number one spot most of the season, is a second-team all-state player.

Anderson had a stellar all-around senior season at the plate, and on the mound.

Anderson hit .304, and he was the Grangers’ best starting pitcher with an 8-5 record and a 1.85 earned run average.

Like Sweat, Anderson is moving on to play at the next level after signing with Furman.

“The great thing about (Anderson) is, it’s nice when one of your better players is one of your hardest workers,” Smart said. “That means a whole lot. That’s not always the case. That guy, he basically does three things. He studies, he works out, and he hits.”

Willis was a two-year starter at catcher, and he had a fantastic senior season.

Willis usually hit in the number three spot behind Sweat and Anderson, and he had a .356 batting average.

Willis was also an exceptional defensive catcher, and he was behind the plate for nearly every game last season.

In the playoffs, Willis caught every inning of all eight playoff games.

Vinson was LaGrange’s Mr. Automatic out of the bullpen.

Vinson was used strictly as a relief pitcher, and he was one of the state’s best in that role. Vinson, a side-arming right-hander, set a school record for saves in a season with 10, and he had an ERA of 1.42.

Vinson was also a starting outfielder and an effective hitter at the number nine spot in the order.