Callaway begins playoff run
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Playoff time has been kind to the Callaway Cavaliers over the years, and they’ll look to continue that trend this season.
Callaway, coming off another stellar regular season under head coach Dusty Hubbard, will begin what they hope will be an extended stay in the Class AA state playoffs with a home series against Union County.
They’ll play a doubleheader on Thursday at 5 p.m., and if needed, a third game would be played on Friday.
If Callaway beats Union County, it would play either Washington or Pepperell in the second round.
Making a deep run in the state playoffs is nothing new for the Cavaliers, who made it the state semifinals in the two most recently completed seasons.
In 2018, Callaway advanced to the semifinals before losing to Benedictine, and it reached that stage again in 2019 before losing to Rockmart.
The 2020 state playoffs was canceled because of COVID-19.
The Cavaliers (17-9 overall) earned the right to host a home playoff series
by finishing second to the Bremen Blue Devils in Region 5-AA.
A strength for the Cavaliers this season has been a pitching staff led by junior Justin Moore, who was named the pitcher of the year in Region 5-AA.
Tucker Starling and freshman Bryce Hubbard have also excelled on the mound, and pitchers Jimmie Dukes, Brantin Swanson, Jacob Miles and Garrett Huckleberry have contributed as well.
Offensively, it has been a struggle at times for the Cavaliers, but they did score a combined 13 runs in a late-season doubleheader against the rival Heard County Braves that concluded region play.
Among Callaway’s leading offensive players are second baseman Tucker Starling and outfielder Andrew Locke, who were each selected as first-team all-region players. Also making a major impact offensively is Bryce Hubbard, a third baseman and pitcher who was named the region’s newcomer of the year.
C.J. Stephens, Callaway’s leadoff hitter, is a second-team all-region player, and Kaden Rogers is an honorable-mention selection on the all-region team.
Justin Moore, in addition to anchoring the rotation, is also one of the top hitters in the lineup, and Blake Sheppard, Jimmie Dukes, Jacob Miles, and Eli Freeman have also contributed offensively.
Callaway’s playoff opponent is Union County (12-17 overall), which went 5-7 in Region 8-AA and finished third. Before losing its final three regular-season games, Union County had won seven consecutive games.
WHAT: First round of Class AA state playoffs
WHEN: Thursday, 5 p.m. (doubleheader); Friday (if necessary)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Callaway finished second in Region 5-AA; Union County finished third in Region 8-AA