Troup, North Oconee to square off
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s a showdown that appeared inevitable as soon as the state playoff bracket was revealed.
Troup and North Oconee have been two of the elite teams in Class AAAA this season, and that the two powerhouses would meet in the third round of the state playoffs appeared likely.
Not surprisingly, both teams have cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs, and they will indeed meet next week in a best-of-three series.
North Oconee will be the host team, and they’ll play a doubleheader on Monday, with a third and deciding game on Tuesday if needed.
The winner will advance to play Benedictine or Heritage-Catoosa in the semifinals.
After his team swept Perry in the second round, and a day before North Oconee beat Druid Hills, Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said he and his players were eager for the next challenge.
“We feel we’re one of the top teams in the state,” Glisson said. “Whoever we play next, we’re right there. Let’s just go and play.”
It has been a special season for Troup, which improved to 29-3 with the 9-4 and 11-0 wins over Perry.
The Tigers won the Region 2-AAAA championship with a perfect record, and now they’ve reached the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“It’s very fun to come out here each day and have a connection with these guys, and enjoy it have fun with the game,” said senior catcher Colton Webb, who hit a home run in the 11-0 win over Perry.
Brett Haynes, the winning pitcher in the clinching win against Perry, said “our chemistry is deep. We know each other like the back of our hands.”
That chemistry is there among the coaches as well according to Glisson.
“It’s the same thing with us coaches. We’re here for the players,” Glisson said. “We’ve got a great staff, and everybody does a great job. They coach their butts off, (the players) play their butts off, and it’s nice. Now we’ll get ready for the next one.”
It has been a spectacular season for North Oconee as well.
With Wednesday’s 2-0 and 17-1 wins over Druid Hills, North Oconee is 30-4 and has won 10 straight games since a loss to Jefferson on April 19.
In Wednesday’s first game, Bubba Chandler threw a seven-inning shutout, and he gave up just one hit while striking out 17.
In the second game, North Oconee exploded for 15 runs in the third inning on the way to a 17-1 victory. Chandler, showing he can get it done with the bat as well, hit a two-run home run in the first inning.
OF NOTE: For much more on the series between Troup and North Oconee, see Saturday’s sports section.