Today’s first-round matchups will be doubleheaders with a third game, if necessary, being played Saturday at the host school. Joining the Hawks, Trojans and the Eagles in the playoffs are North Cobb, Harrison, McEachern, Walton, Pope and Allatoona.
In Class AAAAA, Cobb County has a distinguished reputation to uphold after putting at least one team in the state finals in each of the past seven seasons. Lassiter (2006), Walton (2007), Pope (2009) and Harrison (2010) claimed state titles during that span, and Hillgrove nearly won last year’s trophy before losing in three games to eventual state champion Parkview.
Making their third straight state playoff appearance, the Region 4AAAAA champion and seventh-ranked Hawks (19-7), who won 15 straight regular contests before dropping their regular season finale, will play host to Region 3AAAAA No. 4 Bradwell Institute (16-10) in the first round. Friday’s doubleheader begins at 4 p.m. and Game 3, if necessary, will start at 3 p.m. The Tigers only dropped three games in April leading up to the playoffs.
Sixth-ranked and Region 5AAAAA champion Lassiter (17-9) hosts Region 6AAAAA No. 4 seed North Forsyth (9-17) starting at 5 p.m. today and Saturday, if necessary, at 3 p.m. The Trojans are making their fifth straight playoff appearance and seventh in eight years.
Region 5AAAAA No. 2 and eighth-ranked Walton (18-8) entertains Region 6AAAAA No. 3 Alpharetta (12-13-1) at 5 p.m. today and Saturday at 4 p.m. for a possible third game. Alpharetta won its last three region games to earn a playoff spot.
Also in Region 4AAAAA, No. 2 seed North Cobb (17-9), which has won six straight, hosts Region 3AAAAA No. 3 Benedictine (20-4) at 5 p.m. today and, if necessary, Saturday at 1 p.m.
Harrison (15-11) is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. The third seeded Hoyas, who have won their last four, visit Region 3AAAAA No. 2 Jenkins (17-8), which has won nine of its last 10, today at 1 p.m. Saturday’s contest is planned for 4 p.m.
No. 4 seed McEachern (13-12) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 as veteran coach David Joiner completes his final season. The Indians travel to Camden County (19-7) for a 4:45 p.m. first pitch and possible 1 p.m. Saturday start. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 85-3 over their last eight straight victories.
In Class AAAA, eighth-ranked Pope won 14 of its last 15 games, but still only grabbed the No. 3 seed from Region 5AAAA. The Greyhounds (20-6) visit Region 6AAAA No. 2 Dunwoody (17-9) at 5 p.m. today and Saturday at 3 p.m. for a possible Game 3.
“Playing everyone in our region only one time is tough for seeding,” said. Pope coach Jeff Rowland, who has guided the Greyhounds to their fourth straight state playoff. “When you lose one game, it’s like losing two. It’s a tough region, so we’re fortunate to still be playing.”
Allatoona lost in the quarterfinals last year in its first trip to the Class AAA state playoffs. The Region 7AAA third-seeded Buccaneers (19-7) are back again and visit Region 8AAA No. 2 North Hall (16-9) today at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. if necessary.
“This season was about what we expected so far,” Allatoona coach Keith Hansen said. “We have some of the top teams in the state in our region, so hopefully, we’re battle-tested for playoffs and can make a good run.”
Walker lost two of its three Class A preliminary games to First Presbyterian Day and was unable to move on. However, Region 6A champion Mount Paran Christian (24-2), which is ranked No. 2 in the state, plays its first game at 5 p.m. today against Region 5A No. 3 Wesleyan (16-9). Game 3 would start Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wolves have won nine of their last 10.
“Last year we were freshmen and sophomores that made it to the third round,” Mount Paran coach Harvey Cochran said. “This time, we’re juniors and sophomores, so I’m really proud of the kids for what they’re doing. We played a tough schedule, and these guys know they can play with anybody. As long as we execute, get good pitching and some timely hits, we’ll be all right.”