Dusty Hubbard knows what his team is up against, and he is going to take his boys to the Class AAA State Baseball Tournament anyway.
The Cavaliers will open up the state playoffs with a doubleheader today against the Hart County Bulldogs in Hartwell. Game one will get underway at 5p.m., and the 11th-ranked Cavaliers look forward to the first pitch.
Callaway feels like it is ready.
“We’ve played in three of the last four Elite 8’s, and we have some guys who have been through this before. This is survive and advance (in the State Tournament),” said Hubbard, the head coach of the Cavaliers (14-11).
Bringing some state playoff experience to this first round series is the Cavalier seasoned group of Devin Brock, Cortney Laye, Ty McCann and Dylan Johnson. Three of those four are seniors. Johnson is a junior with some big time ability.
Johnson believes the Cavaliers can and will win against the Bulldogs in the best two out of three series.
“We don’t go into any series thinking that we aren’t going to win. We have some seniors stepping up. We’re going to need to play hard,” said Johnson, who will start in right field in the first game of the playoff series.
Callaway senior second baseman Jordan Bonner is another baseball player with State Tournament experience. Bonner has some confidence and some 7-inning swagger.
“We’re feeling pretty good (about this). We’re coming together. We’re playing baseball, and we’re hitting the ball good,” said Bonner.
The Cavaliers have a hefty .300 batting average.
“We’re working at it. We’re learning to practice with more consistency. We have a tight-knit group. We have some guys who are getting into the groove,” said Hubbard. “We’re grinding out some at-bats, and we’re getting some extra base hits.”
And it’s not all pressure in the state baseball playoffs either.
“This time of the year is fun, and we are healthy,” said Hubbard.
Callaway High will run into a Hart County team with a 16-10 record. The Bulldogs are good, but they are not unbeatable. The Cavaliers know that.
“We think we have a chance to win state. Our pitching has improved a lot. We’re throwing strikes, and we’re focused on getting base hits,” said Hunter Rollins, Callaway High’s senior catcher and pitcher.
Cavalier junior right hander Josh Hanson (6-2) will start the first game of the playoff series against Hart County. Rollins (2-0) will pitch the second game of the first round series for Callaway High School.
“Both guys are mixing their pitches. They’re throwing fastballs, curveballs and changeups for strikes,” said Hubbard.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer