published Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Pitching-rich Gordon Lee peaking at right time

GHSA state playoffs first round

(best-of-three series; doubleheader starts)

Class AAAA

LaGrange (12-13) at Northwest Whitfield (20-4), 5

Class AAA

West Hall (18-8) at Ringgold (19-7), 4:30

Sonoraville (15-10) at North Hall (18-8), 5

North Murray (11-15) at Buford (23-2), 5

Class AA

Jordan (14-10) at Calhoun (20-4), 4:30

Class A

Commerce (14-11) at Gordon Lee (19-6), 4

Trion (11-12) at Schley County (20-4), 5

CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — One year of competing in the baseball postseason under Georgia's Class A power-rating system was enough to teach Mike Dunfee a valuable lesson.

Dunfee's Gordon Lee Trojans were the top-ranked public-school team last season heading into the split playoffs, but after losing the Region 6 championship game to a private school they had to settle for a middle-of-the-pack seeding. That seeding quickly went out the window with first-round upsets, and Gordon Lee ended up not having to travel until the championship round.

The Trojans head into today's start of the playoffs a No. 5 seed and will, if seeding holds true, have to hit the road after this week's series with No. 12 seed Commerce. Dunfee isn't looking ahead.

"What I learned is to worry about our dugout and what we have to do and let the rest play out," he said. "We just need to play our game and do what we do, and we'll be OK. If we have to travel we will, but I hope we get to stay home a while."

Dunfee also isn't about to overlook Commerce, a 14-11 team that plays in a very similar region to Gordon Lee. The top four teams in Region 8 were private schools.

"You can't just look at their record, since they play with some very good private schools," Dunfee said. "We know they're good, but again, everybody's good at this point."

Dunfee believes the Trojans (19-6) are playing their best baseball after a sluggish season start, and if pitching is the key to making a strong postseason run, this is a team built for it.

"We've been preaching and preaching the same stuff all year, and for some reason it seems to finally have hit home in the last couple of games," Dunfee said. "We're clicking offensively, and our pitching has been strong all year."

Junior ace Conard Broom is one of the top pitchers in the state, and there's strong depth in No. 2 starter Jake Rogers, freshman Chaney Rogers, Will Goodman and Tucker Bradley.

"We know we can match up with anyone on the mound, but our defense has to continue to play well and we have to hit," Dunfee said. "We're ready to get started."

The Trojans are one of seven northwest Georgia area teams beginning postseason play with doubleheaders today. Each of the series will have a deciding game Saturday if needed.

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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