CONYERS - Both Rockdale and Conyers Post 77 appear to be ready for the North Georgia Area tournament, which begins Thursday at Cherokee High School in Canton.
And why shouldn't the two teams be?
Rockdale finished first and Conyers took second in the sub-area, giving the two teams No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
The tournament is double elimination with each team needing to win its first two games to earn a state tournament berth. There are other ways to battle back through the loser's bracket, but Rockdale coach Jack Murphy and Conyers coach Eddie Bagwell said they would much rather get those first two wins out of the way.
Conyers plays Dawsonville at 12:30 p.m., while Rockdale plays Alpharetta at 4:30 p.m.
As the bracket is set up, Rockdale and Conyers could meet in the third round or the finals.
Murphy admits his team has already exceeded his expectations.
"This team, more than any team I've had in the past, has really exceeded my expectations. I didn't anticipate that we'd win our side of the area," Murphy said. "I thought maybe we'd finish third or fourth and make the area tournament. As it turned out, these guys are very solid, they work hard and they want to play baseball.
"We've got good pitching, our guys don't hurt themselves, and for the most part, we play pretty good defense. We're going to face some good pitching in the area tournament, especially in the first few games. If we make it through the first few games, I'll feel pretty good about our chances, because we've got pitching depth."
Murphy said he's not treating Alpharetta like a No. 4 seed.
"I know their record is not that good since they're the fourth-place team from their side, but that's just looking at them on paper. When you get into the tournament, you've got to throw all that stuff out," he said. "Everybody is going to have one, two or three good, quality pitchers. We beat them in the Douglasville tournament earlier this season, but that was after they played three or four games in the tournament, and they might have been low on pitching. What we've got to hope for is that we can get to that third or fourth game where people have started to use up their pitching."
Meanwhile, Bagwell will be facing a relatively unfamiliar foe in Dawsonville.
"I don't know much about them. They're the three seed from the other half of the area," Bagwell said. "According to their coach, it's one of the best teams he's ever had at Dawsonville. Supposedly, their No. 1 pitcher is a real good pitcher from Gilmer County. Other than that, I really don't know much about them.
"At the end of the day, we've got to have good pitching. Hopefully, we'll also be able to carry over some momentum and continue to hit well and play good defense. We swung the bats real well the last two games against Douglasville, if we can continue that, we stand a chance."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
What: North Georgia Area Tournament
When: Thursday through Sunday
Where: Cherokee High School in Canton
· Conyers Post 77 vs. Dawsonville, 12:30 p.m.
· Rockdale Post 77 vs. Alpharetta, 4:30 p.m.