River Ridge, Creekview and Sequoyah all qualified for their respective state tournaments, while none of the county’s three Class AAAAAA teams — Cherokee, Etowah and Woodstock — finished in the top four of their region in order to qualify for the playoffs.
River Ridge earned its way into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed from Region 7AAAA. Sequoyah and Creekview, which were among several teams tied atop of the Region 7AAAAA standings in the season’s final weeks had to settle for Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
None of the three teams will be at home for the first round, which begins Friday night with the first two games in a best-of-three series. If necessary, a third game would be played Saturday.
River Ridge has a tough first-round draw, traveling to Columbus. Knights coach Scott Bradley feels confident about his team’s chances after playing several three-game series during region play.
“We are going to play the best, that is for sure, but we are excited about that opportunity no matter what,” Bradley said. “We have won every best-out-of-three series that we have played in. We are going to try to sell that to our kids. We will see what happens.”
As recently as April 23, Creekview and Sequoyah were in a logjam in their region, but Pope beat Creekview on April 24 to take sole possession of first place. After that, Sequoyah beat Creekview on Thursday to create even more separation in the region.
Sequoyah will play at Rome on Friday, while Creekview will travel to Region 5AAAAA powerhouse Allatoona.
Etowah, which once sat atop the Region 5AAAAAA standings, slipped in mid-April when it was swept by Lassiter in the two-game series. The two losses cost the Eagles a playoff berth as they ended with the same region record as the Trojans, only to miss out on the No. 4 seed following the tiebreaker.
Etowah coach Greg Robinson said that he had a good team, but the losses boiled down to one thing — execution.
“We just didn’t get it done,” he said. “We have to execute on the mound. We have to execute when we play defense. We have to execute on the bases, and we have to get some big key hits. We didn’t execute all of the components that are necessary to compete in an outstanding region.”
Etowah opened its region slate strong and were 8-2 on April 9 after sweeping Walton. The Eagles won a 15-inning non-region game over North Cobb on April 14, but then lost four straight region games to Lassiter and Milton.
In its final two games, Etowah defeated Wheeler by identical 10-0 scores, but it didn’t get the help it needed from Woodstock, which would have needed to beat Lassiter once more to get Etowah into the postseason.
“We were 17-3 after we beat North Cobb, playing well and pitching well,” Robinson said. “We just had a bad series against Lassiter. We didn’t do anything particularly well that series. It’s just hard to capsulate the season in one statement. We just didn’t close the deal. We had the opportunity to win the region and now we aren’t even in the playoffs. It’s very frustrating.”
Walton, which was swept by Etowah, ended up making the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the region.
“We beat some of the really good teams in the region, then lost a couple of close ones,” Robinson said. “It’s frustrating because it’s the first time in five years that we aren’t going to the playoffs.”