CONYERS - Last season was an historic ride for the Heritage baseball team.
The Patriots won another Region 8-AAAA championship and eventually played on the highest stage high school baseball has in the Class AAAA state championship.
Recently, Heritage baseball coach Casey Teal and one of his players, Tyler Austin, were honored at the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association coaching clinic.
Teal joined Greenbrier coach Rodney Holder as the Class AAAA Co-Coach of the Year and Austin joined Greenbrier's Brandon Cumpton as the Class AAAA Co-Player of the Year.
Teal guided the Patriots to a 32-6 record and a second-place finish in Class AAAA. Heritage was 23-1 in Region 8-AAAA play and captured its third straight region championship.
Teal said he couldn't have done it without the help he received from the people around him.
"I feel that this award is the result of everything this coaching staff, the players, the parents and the community have done for this program. It's an honor, but mostly because I think about all the things the kids went through and all the time and effort the coaching staff put in," Teal said. "I also think about those five seniors from last year and all that their parents did from them. Those players got to experience something special, and even though we were one series short of a state title, it means a lot to me how well our coaching staff and players worked together. I haven't always been a part of a coaching staff like this. They do their job and they do it well. I can just turn them loose and let them coach."
Austin's season totals were also staggering, especially considering he was only a freshman when he posted them. The third baseman hit .428 with 42 hits, 39 runs, eight doubles, 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. He had a .896 slugging percentage and on-base percentage of .573. The freshman also stole 13 bases. In the field, Austin made only one error in 53 chances for a fielding percentage of .981.
Austin said he was also very honored to win such a prestigious award.
"I couldn't have done it without my coaches, my family and my teammates," he said. "It meant a lot to play for the state championship and this is a very good honor. Still, we want to continue working hard so that next year we win our last game."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.