It all comes down to this, doesn’t it? The buzz is building here at The List HQ, as the other sports clear the deck so baseball can close things out.
Seems fitting enough that the national pastime gets the final stage, so here we go. One final set of finals, and we can’t wait to have that bat ping ringing in our ears (It really does haunt our dreams – but in a good way, we think).
Of course, some of you have probably been distracted by hiking in a park or spring cleaning or doing other silly things that don’t involve watching high school sports, and you may not be familiar with the teams that are left.
That’s where we come in. Because we’re helpful people, here’s one player who’s worth watching from each team in this weekend’s finals.
10. Hays Meyer, Westminster P (Sr.)
Westminster’s ace all season (8-2, 1.45 ERA), Meyer has solidified that role in the playoffs. He won the opening games against Rabun County, Toombs County and Pepperell, allowing just eight hits and one run in 24 innings, including a no-hitter to open up the semifinals with a 1-0 win.
9. Preston Graham, North Hall P (Sr.)
You don’t get much more big time than Graham earlier this week. In Game 1 of the semifinals against Blessed Trinity, he tossed a complete-game one-hitter to help the Trojans eek out a 1-0 win. Then, in the deciding game Tuesday, he had enough left in the tank to toss the final 2-2/3 innings, shutting the Titans out to close out a 4-0 win.
8. Alex Schnell, Milton OF/P (Jr.)
He’s not the biggest player at 5-foot-11, but his complete-game shutout is what sent the Eagles to the finals for a shot at their first title since 2004. He’s one of those players who finds a way to get it done at the plate or on the mound, and he’s going to be key if the Eagles are to win it all.
7. Nathaniel Lowe, Pope INF/P (Sr.)
Whether it’s the bat or the arm, he’s been playing some ball for Pope this postseason. In the final game in the semifinals against Starr’s Mill, he had the game-winning RBI double in the eighth inning. He got the win on the mound in deciding game of the quarters, hit a long homer against Evans, scored the winning run in the second round’s deciding game. Funny how some guys just keep ending up in the middle of things.
6. Pearce Howell, Lovett P/SS (Sr.)
Want to see a pitcher make hitters look silly? Howell might be a good candidate. The kid struck out so many Benedictine batters in Game 2 of the semifinals that a strikeout even ended up being what beat him. Tied 2-2 in the sixth, on his 12th of 14 strikeouts, a hard breaking ball got by the catcher, the batter reached and eventually scored the winning run. Howell gets new life in the finals, though.
5. Taylor Glover, Greenbrier C (Sr.)
The Region 2-AAAAA Player of the Year is a four-year starter behind the plate, a talented hitter and even kept playing through a bout of mononucleosis at the beginning of this playoff run. There’s a reason Greenbrier has been in the finals each of the past two years, and Glover is a pretty big, old-school part of that.
4. Syd Hopkins, Roswell SS/P (Sr.)
In addition to being one of the team’s best pitchers, this Georgia Tech signee can also hit plenty, driving in two runs with a double in the deciding 7-6 semifinal win over Walton, among many other big hits for the Hornets this season, as they shoot for their first title in more than a quarter-century.
3. Connor Justus, Cartersville SS (Sr.)
Justus is the first player under Stuart Chester at Cartersville to sign with Georgia Tech, and for good reason. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior is the anchor of the infield, and he has become one of the most feared hitters in the lineup.
2. Anthony Sherlag, Marist C (Sr.)
The Eagles haven’t lost a game yet this postseason, and Sherlag is one of the biggest reasons why. The Alabama signee had four of Marist’s six RBIs during game one of the semifinals against Crisp County. He’s got plenty of experience in this spot, having played for two previous state title teams in 2010 and 2011. Here’s betting he’d like a third.
1. Wesley Jones, Redan SS (Sr.)
During the regular season, he led or nearly led DeKalb County in most offensive categories (first with 38 RBI, 27 singles, 108 AB, 41 hits; second in runs scored). He has power, speed and range in the field. In the postseason, he’s one of the main reasons Redan is playing for its first ever state title. If you keep your eye on the Major League draft next month, you’ll likely see this UGA signee’s name called.
Now we want to know what you think. Which players will you be keeping an eye on these next few days? Who’s going to win it all? Could you hit a Howell breaking ball in the dirt? Let us know either here in the comments or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports.