published Friday, April 4th, 2014

Baseball races tight in northwest Georgia

The halfway mark of the Georgia high school baseball region schedules is here, and little has been decided in the Chattanooga area.

In 7-AAAA, defending champion Northwest Whitfield and Dalton are tied at 8-1 in the B subregion, with Heritage currently in the key third position at 6-3. The subregion champions will face off in a three-game championship series, with the second- and third-place teams competing in best-of-three sets to decide the other two league playoff teams.

Northwest's Bruins and Dalton's Catamounts face off this week in their three-game series, and Northwest coach Todd Middleton hopes it plays out just like last season when the two rivals also were tied at this point.

"It's the same spot we were in last year, and hopefully we end up on the good side again," he said. "It's a great rivalry and it's always competitive, but if our pitching holds up I think we've got a good shot. I still don't think we've played at our best for a complete series, but hopefully this will be it."

Dalton comes in off a three-game sweep of LaFayette that included a 20-0 win Tuesday in which the Cats scored 15 first-inning runs, highlighted by recent Chattanooga State signee Grant Sane's grand slam.

• The races are tight also in Regions 5-AAA and 7-AA. In 5-AAA, there was a three-way tie at the top heading into Thursday night's action with Ringgold, Cartersville and Sonoraville each 5-1 in league play. Ringgold has defeated Sonoraville but lost to Cartersville, which lost to Sonoraville. If the schedule means anything the Phoenix may have an edge as they will host the other two teams, Ringgold on the 11th and Cartersville on the 17th.

In 7-AA, Calhoun ascended to the top alone with a comeback 9-6 win over Pepperell on Tuesday. The Dragons and Coosa, which defeated Calhoun earlier, are tied at second with two league losses each. Chattooga, which owns a win over Pepperell, is third, and Dade County and Model also are in the running for a playoff spot.

In 6-A, where anything short of a region title means relying on power ratings, both Gordon Lee and Trion remain in the hunt for subregion titles and a shot at the region crown and automatic state berth. Gordon Lee is 6-3 in the A subregion, with Trion and Darlington tied for second at 5-4.

• Calhoun coach Chip Henderson said that shortstop Avery Johnson, who was hit in the head with a pitch Tuesday, will miss up to a week after being checked out following the win over Pepperell.

"He was cleared at the hospital, but they want to keep him out just for precautionary measures," Henderson said. "It's certainly good news."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296.

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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