CONYERS - The competition only gets better as Heritage takes on Dalton today in the second round of the Class AAAA baseball playoffs.
Dalton, the No. 2 seed from 7-AAAA, knocked off Alexander in its first round matchup, while the Patriots dismissed North Springs.
Now the stage is set for another best-of-three series as the Catamounts pay a visit to Danny Blue Field. Game 1 of the doubleheader is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Heritage coach Casey Teal said he has a good deal of respect for Dalton's team, and it starts with head coach Bob Brotherton.
"They've got a very good head coach. He was a college coach for many years," Teal said. "He's very sound and disciplined, probably the best coach in the entire region. He's good."
Teal said he's also very impressed with Dalton's battery.
"They're led by Mackie Sheets, he's their ace, and Garren Palmer, their catcher," Teal said. "Those guys are two of their top hitters, too.
"They have a pretty deep pitching staff. Their No. 2 pitcher is pretty good and they have three or four guys behind him. They are pretty young, too. They've only got a few seniors that play, but they make you pay for the mistakes you make. They open it up offensively, and when the opportunity presents itself, they'll bunt or use the hit-and-run. They'll do those type of things, but they also have power in the lineup with Sheets and Palmer."
Teal said the Catamounts also have a solid leadoff hitter in Stryker Brown.
"Their leadoff man, he's the one that makes them go. He's a lefthanded hitter, he gets on base and he can hit a little bit," Teal said. "He handles the bat extremely well and he sets it up for the rest of the lineup."
Teal's main focus now is to keep his team even keeled and ready for the first game of today's doubleheader.
"For us, we've just got to do the same thing that we've done all year," he said. "We don't do anything differently to prepare for a team. As long as we're prepared in every aspect of the game, whether that be defending small ball or the hit-and-run, we've done that all year, so it's nothing new to our kids. They're ready for it and it's not going to catch them by surprise.
"Dalton is going to be more hungry than a lot of the teams we've faced. It's been a long time, maybe six years, since they hosted a playoff series. They hosted one in the first round and they've got a lot of momentum coming into this game."
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: If you go
· What: Second round class AAAA state baseball playoffs
· Who: Dalton Catamounts (16-12) vs. Heritage Patriots (24-4)
· When: Today, 3:30 p.m., doubleheader
· Where: Danny Blue Field