Cooper, Dade County earn way into playoff picture in 7-AA

Cooper, Dade County earn way into playoff picture in 7-AA

April 10th, 2014 by Lindsey Young in Sports - Preps

As far as signature wins go, Dade County's 6-0 win over Calhoun last week was just what first-year coach Brent Cooper needed.

The Wolverines have had a revolving door in the manager's position in the last few years -- Cooper is the fourth coach in three years -- so earning an identity and respect in tough Region 7-AA has been difficult. The win over Calhoun evened Dade's region record at 4-4 and put the team squarely into the playoff picture.

"They are definitely the cream of the crop in our region," Cooper said of the Yellow Jackets. "That win allows this team to see what they can do when we put it all together, pitch, play defense and execute offensively. It also helps us reach our goal of making the playoffs, and we're playing with a lot of confidence right now."

The Wolverines have the pitching depth to have postseason success, led by junior Josh Core, who shut out Calhoun on four hits to improve to 4-0. Core, who also is the team's leading hitter at .442, is joined by Garrett Moore (2.50 ERA) and Nic Gaddis (2.71) in the team's rotation.

Johnson leading Sonoraville surge

There isn't a hotter hitter in the area than Sonoraville junior Clark Johnson. The outfielder raised his average to near .500 this week with a 13-for-16 streak that included a pair of homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and five runs scored.

The Phoenix, led by Johnson's three hits (including a three-run homer) improved to 7-1 in Region 5-AAA with a 10-0 win over Gordon Central. They host one-loss Ringgold in a region showdown Friday.

Trojans looking at big picture

There isn't a more intense rivalry in northwest Georgia than Gordon Lee/Trion. However, since the institution of the Class A power ranking system to determine playoff teams, coaches have had to take a bit of different approach.

The two Region 6-A teams meet Friday on the baseball field, and though each of the top 10-ranked teams would like nothing better than to have bragging rights, the ranking system has made some nonregion games more important. Gordon Lee, for example, has more to gain by defeating Class AA power Calhoun on Monday than by beating its biggest rivals Friday, which is why Trojans' coach Mike Dunfee set up his rotation to have ace Conard Broom ready to face Calhoun.

"With this power-rating system you have to look at things a little differently," Dunfee said. "We always want to beat Trion, but as far as points are concerned, a win over a team like Calhoun could mean a lot more. Every game in single-A is important, and, like Monday, some nonregion games are bigger."

Calhoun, 13-2, is likely to win more than 20 games this season, meaning a win over the Jackets would mean at least 25 points (five for winning the game and one for each Calhoun win). Considering Gordon Lee will have a tough time winning the 6-A title with five top 10-ranked private schools in the region, the team's point total will determine its seeding if it doesn't win the region.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296.