Panthers make first playoff appearance in three years

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Georgiana School is abuzz with news of the Georgiana varsity baseball team’s first playoff appearance in three years.

The feat also marks the first time since 2009 that the Panthers’ football, basketball and baseball teams have made simultaneous playoff appearances.

Georgiana head baseball coach Ken Hamilton said that the road to the playoffs has been a tough one, with quite a strange end.

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The Panthers were scheduled for two games against the Selma-based Ellwood Christian Academy Eagles on Friday, but a rain delay ended the match in the third inning with an 11-2 Panthers lead.

“So the umpire suspended the game until the next day,” Hamilton said.

“But the coach for the other team didn’t show up.  The team showed up, but no coach.”

The teams waited for nearly two hours for the Ellwood Christian coach to show up, to no avail.  The umpires eventually called both games, clinching the Panthers’ playoff spot in the process.

The Panthers travel to Red Level for the first-round showdown on Friday, but before that, the Panthers will have to contend with its biggest rival this season—Mother Nature.

Delays and cancellations have impeded the team’s progress every step of the way, accounting for at least 10 game delays due to rainouts.

But even the downcast weather hasn’t dampened the Panthers’ spirits, as Hamilton added that his players—and especially their parents—are ecstatic about making the playoffs.

Hamilton is equally happy for his younger players to gain some early postseason experience.

“It’s a chance for them to feel the pressure and excitement of the playoffs,” Hamilton said.

“It’s a chance for them to feel the crowd and understand the difference when you want to win a championship, and what it means to perform on a big stage when the bright lights are on.  These guys have never experienced playoff baseball, because Georgiana hasn’t gone in a while.

“And I know they’ll be nervous, but it’s all they’ve been talking about in school today.  Everyone’s really ready, and I think the parents are even more excited than the kids.”

The key to victory for the Panthers will lie in pitching well and playing solid defense.

“If we have problems on the mound, as this season has shown us, we’ll struggle,” Hamilton added.

“But if we do those things, we’re going to win.”

The Panthers defeated Red Level earlier this season 3-0 at home, but the situation is a bit different this time around.

“I think we have a good chance of winning.  They’re a quality team and they have a quality coach in Coach Ingram,” Hamilton said.

“But at the same time, I know they’re going to be home this time and the crowd is going to be there.  We’re going to come out with the attitude of coming home going to the second round.”

The Panthers’ first-round bout is set for 4 p.m. in Red Level.