Cavaliers ready for playoff journey

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2018


Daily News

The Callaway Cavaliers, after winning the latest in a long line of region championships under head coach Dusty Hubbard, are ready to begin what they hope will be a lengthy playoff stay.

Callaway, which won the Region 5-AA title, will host B.E.S.T. Academy in the opening round of the state playoffs today.

B.E.S.T is the number four team from Region 6-AA.

Weather-permitting, they’ll play a doubleheader today at 4 p.m., and if needed, a third game would be on Friday.

If Callaway beats B.E.S.T, it would host either Rabun County or Rockmart in the second round of the playoffs.

The Cavaliers had their struggles earlier in the season, and Hubbard let the players know he expected more from them.

“Early on, we gave away at-bats, and we didn’t compete on some ground balls,” Hubbard said. “We had about two weeks of practice where it was tough. We were getting after them. And they learned.”

It all came together late in the season against Heard County.

Callaway beat Heard County 9-2 and 11-3 in back-to-back games to secure a second straight region title.

Heard County won the series finale 9-8, but the region title had already been decided.

Callaway closed the regular season with non-region games against Central-Carroll, Jackson County and Pike County, and it went 1-2 in those games.

“We really started to emphasize that, in the playoffs, it’ll come down to who makes that big play, who gets the big hit,” Hubbard said. “That’s winning or losing in the playoffs.”

Callaway is led by Chandler Lott, who has had a phenomenal senior season.

Lott is hitting .407, and he leads the team in home runs and RBIs.

Drake Wade, Braelin Mitchell, Trent Sheppard, Wesley Marchman, Kyle Campbell, Jabari Smith, and Bryce Kurian round out what has been a potent lineup.

Chandler Lott and Wesley Marchman are the top dogs on the mound, combining for 16 of Callaway’s 20 wins. Lott is 9-2, and Marchman is unbeaten at 7-0.

After those two, while there are some talented pitchers, there is a major drop-off in experience.

“What worries you is, I looked at our pitching staff, and Chandler has thrown 68 innings, Wesley has thrown 50, and our next closest is 20,” Hubbard said.

If Callaway ever gets to a game three, it would be all hands on deck as far as the pitchers go.

“It’d be by committee,” Hubbard said. “It’d have to be.”