Baseball team in hunt for playoffs as regular season comes to a close

Ike Hammond

The baseball team (8-7 overall, 7-6 in Region 6-AAAA), is thick in the hunt for the playoffs.

The top four teams in the region advance to the state playoffs, and Grady is currently in fifth place, only two games behind fourth-place Arabia Mountain.

The team has stayed in the playoff hunt this year despite losing four key seniors— Luke Leonard, Pete Mastin, Liam Henry and Oscar Prioleau—from last year’s team that went 9-4 in the region and placed fourth in the region. The 2013-2014 Knights faced Lanier High School in the first round of the playoffs but failed to make it past the first round, losing two games to one in the best-of-three playoff series.

In the race for the final state qualifying spot in the region, Grady (7-6), trails Arabia Mountain (9-4) by two games. Luckily, all five games left in the season are against regional opponents.

Arabia Mountain only has four games left on its schedule, all against region foes.

Grady plays one game against 7th-place Redan (next Tuesday) and two games against 1st-place St. Pius X (Monday and TBD because today’s scheduled game has been rained out) and 9th-place Stone Mountain (next Wednesday and Friday). Arabia Mountain’s remaining games are two against 3rd-place Marist and two against 6th-place Chamblee.

The Knights have their work cut out for them. They must win at least three games to advance if Arabia Mountain goes 1-3. If Arabia Mountain, however, goes 2-2 in their remaining games, Grady must go 4-1, with at least one victory coming against the first-place St. Pius X Golden Lions.

In order to win these games and qualify for the playoffs, the team’s bats will have to heat up; the offense is averaging only 2.33 runs per game over the past three games.

Senior Brandon Cannonier—who is ranked top five in the region in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, runs batted in and on base percentage—as well as junior Davis Schwartz, who leads the region with a .444 batting average, will lead the charge for the Knights.

The starting rotation, which consists primarily of Davis, junior Charles Bailey and sophomores Jack Bannon and Andrew Meadows, will need to continue its solid work. Combined, these four have a respectable 3.32 earned run average on the season.

To make matters more difficult, Grady has struggled with scheduling the entire year. The team often finds itself practicing in the old gym because Crim High School, Grady’s home stadium, is often too wet or already booked.

Grady will face a challenge in the offseason as well because four of the seniors on the team, who have a composite .320 batting average, will be graduating. Coach Mark Davidson’s status for next season is also uncertain, as he hasn’t announced if he’s going to return next year.

The team’s main strength—its starting pitching—will return. How the offense performs will be dependent upon rising juniors such as Meadows, Bannon, Micaiah Streator and Yan Mastin.