GHSA Baseball Playoffs
First-round doubleheaders today
in best-of-three series
(if-necessary games Saturday)
Gordon Lee (22-6) at Lincoln County (13-5), 2:30
Lakeview-F.O. (15-10) at North Oconee (20-4), 3
Coahulla Creek (16-7) at Hart County (14-10), 4
Elbert County (20-5) at Calhoun (16-5), 5
Heritage (17-7) at Gainesville (25-0), 4
Lanier (15-10) at Ringgold (21-4), 4:30
Trey Silmon doesn't want to say out loud that divine intervention is in play here, but the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe junior catcher won't deny it, either.
Silmon's late-game heroics -- he has three walk-off home runs -- helped lead the 15-10 Warriors to a Class AA playoff berth. One of his blasts was a three-run game-ender in the Region 7-AA playoff qualifying series opener against Pepperell, a series in which he added a deciding three-RBI double to help seal the playoff berth.
In each of his big at-bats, Silmon has followed the same routine that starts off with a short prayer -- not a request for personal glory but sort of a shout-out to his recently deceased grandfather.
"I kind of ask for God to get my pawpaw's attention so that I might give him something to smile about," Silmon said. "And I ask for something good to happen for my team. I tell you, it's been really profound. I can't explain it."
Silmon played sparingly a year ago as a sophomore, but he won the starting catching job this season and has led LFO with a .400-plus batting average and seven home runs. Just as important, according to first-year coach Johnny Burch, Silmon emerged as a leader on a team that needed one early.
"He's been big in big situations, and he's become the leader I want my catcher to be," Burch said. "It took a while for this team to figure out that being down a few runs during a game isn't the end of the world. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a guy like Trey at the end of a game. He's really been something. Half his hits have been for extra bases, and I think he's the most valuable player in our region this year."
The Warriors likely will need all the runs they can get in their opening series at third-ranked North Oconee (20-4). Top pitcher Cole Ellis, who has an ERA under 1 in over 50 innings, will miss the series with a minor injury. Silmon still believes LFO has a shot to pull off the upset.
"We've had three or four guys step up on the mound late in the season, and as the catcher that makes me feel good," he said. "Pitching is the key for us, and the way we've been hitting the ball, we can play with anybody if we get the pitching. I think we'll be all right with the guys we have."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.