Baseball playoffs are set to begin in Georgia next week, and while a handful of teams can at least rest easy knowing they will have a postseason spot, several more head into play Tuesday needing a big week to move on.
The area's two largest regions, 7-AAAA and 6-AAA, just happen to be the most volatile. In 7-AAAA, while Cedartown (13-2) has clinched the championship, the next four teams — Northwest Whitfield, Heritage, Pickens and Central-Carroll — have identical 9-6 league records.
The region's teams play three-game series, which gives them the chance to improve their standing quickly — or go the opposite direction. Only two of the teams, Northwest and Central-Carroll, play each other this week. The winner of that three-game set, which begins Tuesday with a single game in Carrollton and concludes with a Friday doubleheader in Tunnel Hill, is in. The loser, however, isn't necessarily out.
Pickens, by virtue of winning two of three games against Northwest, Heritage and Central-Carroll, has the clear edge and just needs to avoid being swept by Ridgeland to earn a spot. The Dragons win any tiebreaker against the other three teams.
Heritage is in the toughest spot, having lost two of three games against each of the other three teams. To make it even harder, the Generals face top-seeded Cedartown this week.
The situation is very similar in 6-AAA, where 13-1 Rockmart needs just one win this week to clinch the region championship and four teams — Ringgold (10-3), Sonoraville (9-4), Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (9-4) and Coahulla Creek (8-5) — are battling for the other three postseason spots.
"It's a big week for us and a lot of teams," said Ringgold coach Drew Walker. "This is what you plan for all year."
Teams in 6-AAA play each other twice and each has three games remaining. Walker's Tigers control their own destiny, needing one win this week to make the playoffs. After facing North Murray Tuesday, Ringgold must face Catoosa County rival LFO twice to close the season.
The Warriors, however, must first get past Coahulla Creek today. The Colts won the first meeting between the teams and could, should they win Tuesday and sweep two from Sonoraville to end the season, rise as high as second. Lose one this week and they are likely out.
The other five regions aren't quite as messy. Dalton, loser of four straight, is tied for fourth place with Alexander in Region 5-AAAAAA. Those two teams split games, so a tie would likely result in a coin flip. The Cats finish with second-place Carrollton, while Alexander faces Rome for two.
Calhoun has earned a playoff berth in Region 7-AAAAA, where Cartersville is the region champion. The winner of this week's Calhoun/Blessed Trinity three-game series will be second, the loser third.
In 7-AA, Dade County's hopes dwindled with Monday's loss to first-place Model and now needs to win the final two in the series to have a shot to pass Fannin County for the fourth playoff berth.
Gordon Lee, thanks to Monday's 10-0 win over Drew Charter, is once again the Region 6-A public champion. Trion needs one win in its final three-game set with Armuchee to earn the No. 2 seed. Christian Heritage's playoff life in Region 7-A private will come down to a season-ending two-game set with Walker.
Sale Creek 12, Copper Basin 2: Garrett Pickett had three hits and Gavin McGlocklin stole three bases, while Jakob Elrod (double and triple) combined for five RBIs with Camden Penny.
East Hamilton 7, Notre Dame 1: Jase Phillips homered and drove in three runs while Brayden Jasper picked up the win after allowing two hits and one run over six innings. Jacob Eargle doubled and homered for Notre Dame.
Signal Mountain 4, Central 2: The Eagles received a tiebreaking RBI single from Blake Wolfard in the top of the sixth, while Carter Giles drove in a pair of runs and Cash Keen doubled and scored twice. Giles was also impressive in relief, tossing four no-hit innings.
Gordon Lee 10, Drew Charter 0: Holt Roberts drove in three runs, Blake Rodgers and Garren Ramey two each for the Trojans (15-10, 11-1) in the Region 6-A public title-clinching win.
Franklin Road Academy won the Yellow Jacket Classic over the weekend with an 8-4 victory over Coalfield. Signal Mountain's Luke Chamberlain and Lookout Valley's Christian Chandler made the all-tournament team.
Bradley Central 13, Ooltewah 12: Bailey Lockhart's sacrifice bunt helped set up a walk-off victory in which Lockhart scored a game-high four runs. Macy Chastain had three hits in the victory, including a triple. Ooltewah's Shianne Schmitt had three hits and RBIs while Emma Ladd hit a grand slam.
Soddy-Daisy 12, Red Bank 0: Hannah Patterson doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Lady Trojans (21-5). Skylar Gooden also had three RBIs and Ryli Renfo homered in the three-inning victory.
Walker Valley 18, Hixson 5: The Lady Mustangs scored 12 runs in the first inning to lead a road rout.
Silverdale Baptist 12, Notre Dame 0: The Lady Seahawks received three-hit performances from Amare Starling and Bentlee Stiner, while Katie Willoughby drove in three and fired six innings of scoreless ball with seven strikeouts.
Roundup reports compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact them at email@example.com.