ECI’s middle school baseball team is heading into the state playoffs undefeated! The boys to date have a season record of 12-0 and are looking to improve it when playoff action begins next week.
The team’s roster includes eighth graders Kanyon Thompson, James Parker, Oisin Matthews, Gabe Lee, Cayden Jones, Clayton Stripling, seventh graders Tyler Foreman, Johnny Baird, Jake Grimm, Tuff Boddiford, Max McBride, Jackson Kennedy, Brayden Rich, and sixth graders Turner Bryant, Davis Johnson, Ab Marsh, and Gunner Johnson. They are led by head coach John Hodges and assistant coach David Hodges.
En route to the playoffs, ECI has beaten Johnson County twice, 5-3 and 10-7; East Laurens once, 16-2; Swainsboro once, 12-3; Toombs County twice, 8-2 and 8-5; Screven County twice, 15-6 and 18-6; Jenkins County twice, 14-1 and 11-3; and Metter twice, 16-6 and 10-5.
“This team has a good mixture of players who were with us last year and guys that we added this year. We have tried to instill a strong work ethic and drive to improve each day. The players have been acceptive of this, they have worked hard each day at practice, and they have played with great effort during our games. We have also stressed playing to the standard that we set for ourselves and not being concerned about who we are playing or what is occurring in the game,” Head Coach Hodges said. He continued, “It has been a challenge to remain undefeated because of playing the teams in our region multiple times. I believe it is difficult to beat the same team more than once, but our team has met the challenge. There is a good chance that we will play some of the teams on our side of the region for a third time. Hopefully, we will continue to rise to that challenge in the playoffs.”
The region tournament will begin Tuesday, April 13. However, the bracket has yet to be set due to outstanding region games that still have to be played. Nonetheless, ECI has locked up the No. 1 seed on their side of the region. Coach Hodges says he anticipates the team will play Claxton since the Tigers haven’t won a region game yet.
Whoever the Dawgs’ opponent ends up being in the first round, should the boys from Twin City win, they will host again on Thursday, April 15, with that opponent to be determined later.
The championship game is scheduled to be hosted by the No. 1 seed on the other side of the region if both No. 1 seeds make it to the championship. Should ECI make it to the title game against any other seed, the Dawgs will host the championship on Saturday, April 17.
In the meantime, you can find the team preparing for the playoffs by practicing two days this week as well as practicing next Monday before their first game.