Suddenly, the spring sports schedule is winding down. Region titles are being won, playoff pairings are being announced and a few regular seasons are inching toward the finish line.
Before we know it, the ball fields will be quiet and we’ll be wondering how it went by so fast.
But before that moment arrives, let’s milk these last few weeks of prep athletics while we can and hope somewhere along the line there’s a state title to be won.
I’ll start with soccer this week because of the magnitude of the match: Dutchtown at Statesboro.
Wednesday afternoon at Womack Field, SHS has a chance to advance to the quarterfinals with a win over the Bulldogs from Hampton, Ga.
There are only 16 teams left in the GHSA Class AAAA state tournament. Statesboro is likely to be one of only eight left if they show up and play to their capabilities on Wednesday.
An SHS win would also mean a home match on Saturday, and, if the cards fall right, a possible Final Four match at SHS on May 6.
A state title isn’t just a dream anymore but starting to come into focus as a reality. Statesboro vs. Dutchtown, Wednesday, 5 p.m.
For many, the regular season came to a grinding halt last week on the baseball diamond. Portal, Metter and Claxton said goodbye to 2009 and turned their attentions to 2010. The Panthers and CHS just didn’t have enough to make their region tournaments, while MHS was upset in the first round by upstart Jenkins County.
At Southeast Bulloch, the Yellow Jackets were a win away from advancing to the state tournament after splitting a weekend doubleheader with Dublin. But the Fighting Irish put their foot down, eliminating SEB on Monday night to leave us with just two county teams in play.
Up the road at Screven County, the Gamecocks will play Toombs County on Friday for the Region 3-AA championship. I’ve been saying it all year — SCHS is probably the most dangerous team in our area and worth keeping an eye on.
Finally, there’s Bulloch Academy and Statesboro — both are in must-win situations.
At SHS, the Blue Devils are holding on to a 1 game lead for the fourth and final playoff spot out of Region 2-AAAA with three games to play. The wild part is, Statesboro is only 1 game back of first place. There’s a realistic chance that four teams could finish 8-4 in said region at the end of the regular season. With no region playoff, good luck figuring that one out.
Statesboro can’t be concerned with all that stuff this week. They have to take care of business. Tuesday, it’s Ware County at home; Wednesday, it’s Senior Night against Burke County; Friday, the season concludes at Wayne County.
Last but not least, the boys at Gator Alley have the same scenario in front of them that their brethren at SHS do: win or face the possibility of going home.
The Gators play three times this week, but every contest is in GISA Region 2-AA play. A win over Frederica today on St. Simons would all but assure them a top-four finish in league play. But a sweep through the week could vault them as high as second. Bulloch finishes the season at home Wednesday and Monday at 4 p.m.
Track and Field
One of the most underrated sports in Bulloch County — track and field.
Bulloch County saw four teams win region championships this past week and four individuals win the high point honor at their respective meets.
Troy Poulin and Rachel Gilbert helped their BA teams to a title while Mario Jackson and Raven Thomas did the same for BA. Amazing young men and women who do things us mere mortals can only dream about.
Congratulations to all the athletes who dedicated themselves to a region title and cemented their names in the history books.
Georgia Southern baseball
Let’s stay up to date with the boys in blue over at J.I. Clements.
The Eagles dropped two of three at The Citadel this past weekend, which I assumed was a real possibility.
The good news is that GSU is still in second (three games back of Elon), still has an RPI of 25 (best in the Southern Conference despite dropping from 22) and the strength of schedule has held steady, down three spots to 71.
For a team still considered to be a Top 30 club in the nation, losing a conference series on the road is no need to panic. It doesn’t look like 40 wins is a possibility anymore in the regular season, but if the Eagles can get to the upper 30s and win a couple in the SoCon tournament, a regional is all but certain.
This week, Southern travels to a solid Kennesaw State team for a doubleheader then returns home for three with Furman. I feel the Owls give GSU some problems on Wednesday, but the Eagles sweep away the Paladins over the weekend.