THOUGH it has now been locked out of the region playoffs, the Jackson County baseball team will try to make the final four games of the season more than just a mere formality.
While the top four teams from each subregion in 8-AA now begin play in the region playoffs, Jackson County will finish out its schedule with games against Oglethorpe County Wednesday (UPDATE: JCCHS won 7-3) East Hall (Friday), East Jackson (Tuesday) and Banks County (Friday, April 29).
Panther coach Tommy Fountain said his team – which was eliminated fromthe region playoff race Friday with a 19-1 loss to Jefferson – will try to salvage a season that fell a bit short of expectations.
“I guess it’s a negative and a positive,” Fountain said. “The tough thing is that we’ve got to turn around and play four games against teams from the bottom of the region to finish out the season. That’s tough to ask a bunch of kids to do after a game like (Friday) night.”
At 8-13, Jackson County has readjusted its goals for this final stretch.
“And at this point, our goal is to win the next four.”
Fountain said Friday’s loss to Jefferson was frustrating because his team had hoped this was the year it would finally reach the postseason. But that hope unraveled Friday after a few tough innings.
“We’ve been real good about beating the teams that we’re supposed to beat, and that was one of the things we focused on when I got here because that used to not always be the case,” he said. “And by doing that, we got ourselves in position to play for something tonight (Friday night). But for us to get to the next point, we’ve got to beat those teams that we feel like we’re even with. We did that a couple times this year and slipped up on Elbert and North (Oconee), but we couldn’t do it against Jefferson.”
Austin Robinson led the Panthers at the plate in the loss, going 2-for-3. Trey Sorrells drove home Jackson County’s lone run.
Jackson County entered the Jefferson game on the heels of a 15-5 pasting of rival East Jackson on April 13. But Fountain said Friday’s lopsided loss to the Dragons – the Panthers’ third setback this year to Jefferson – was a result of a multitude of things what went awry.
“Tonight was one of those nights where everything that could have gone wrong went wrong,” Fountain said. “We didn’t throw strikes early, we got squeezed at the zone. They hit 8,000 bloop singles … So what do you say? You tip your hat, but a loss like that is not acceptable here anymore. So I’m frustrated, I think our guys are frustrated. I’d be upset if they weren’t frustrated.”
And the only way to do deal with the frustration is to try to end the season with a four-game winning streak.
“All you can do is learn from it and play these next four games and go out on a good note,” Fountain said.