Creekview, the runner-up in Region 7AAAAA, will host third-seeded Lakeside-DeKalb in the opening round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. The first round will begin with a doubleheader Friday, with a potential third game Saturday.
For the Grizzlies, it came down to the final game of the regular season.
When Creekview (16-10, 15-5) beat Riverwood on Thursday, it guaranteed itself at least second in the region. Had Sequoyah beaten Pope the same evening, Creekview would have won the region title, but the Chiefs lost 6-2, and the Greyhounds won the title.
Creekview coach Mike Nayman feels his team has a good chance against Lakeside (17-7). He’s giving his players a long weekend to rest up before practicing for the doubleheader.
“It will be a pretty competitive deal between regions 6 and 7,” he said. “Overall, our region was very competitive. Even the middle-of-the-pack teams that ended up 12-8, 11-9, 10-10 had at least one or two pitchers that could go out there on any given night and beat any team in the region.
“We have a lot of players that are going to go play in college. A lot of games were decided by one play going one way or another. That speaks well for our region.”
Going into the final week of the season, there were eight teams in Region 7AAAAA vying for a spot in the playoffs.
“When you think about it in those terms, it’s pretty good,” Nayman said. “We have been tested by seven or eight teams. Really good baseball being played, so I think we’re ready.”
Etowah (17-9, 8-6 Region 5AAAAAA) edged Towne Lake rival Woodstock for the fourth seed. The Eagles will be on the road at Parkview in the first round.
Etowah coach Greg Robinson said the Panthers, who won the last two Class AAAAA state championships, will be tough, but the Eagles faced similar competition throughout the season in their region.
“Finishing in the top four in our region is an accomplishment for our guys,” Robinson said. “We had a lot of young guys play and we feel very fortunate to be representing our region.”
Parkview (20-6) won the Region 8AAAAAA title again this season, in a race that came down to the final game of the season, with a win over Grayson.
“That is a tough region over there, too,” Robinson said. “They play great baseball and have great tradition. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Robinson said he scheduled a few doubleheaders during the regular season in order to prepare his players, but it will all come down to good weather and well-rested arms.
“We just need some concentration early in the week and then not go as hard later in the week,” Robinson said. “They are going to be on their feet for six hours, so it’s just a little bit different.”
Meanwhile, River Ridge backed into the Class AAAA tournament.
The Knights (9-15, 6-7) had a losing record both overall and in Region 7AAAA play, but they swept a region playoff against Dalton to get into the state playoffs. River Ridge then lost to Heritage-Catoosa in a single game that determined the third and fourth seeds.
The Knights are in the state playoffs for the first time.
Because of the way River Ridge played its region schedule, it may have an advantage in the playoffs. The teams of Region 7AAAA played three-game series against one another, so the Knights are accustomed to playing an opponent on consecutive days and using a variety of pitchers.
As the No. 4 seed, the Knights will travel to Region 6AAAA champion Marist (19-7).