Swimmers take multiple state titles

CONYERS - The Rockdale County swim team had a good showing at the GRPA Class A state swim meet, led by multiple state title winners Delaney Willette and Matthew Tibbetts.

Eight-year-old Willette won the 7 and 8-year-old individual titles in the 25-yard breaststroke (20.07 seconds) and 100-yard individual medley (1 minute, 29.93 seconds), while Tibbetts, a 15-year-old, captured gold in both the 15 to 18-year-old 50-yard breaststroke at 27.86, and the 100-yard individual medley (IM) at 55.21.

Tibbetts, who repeated as a state champion in each event, bested his District 6 time in the 50 breaststroke by more than a second and his 100 IM time by more than two seconds. Tibbetts teamed up with Taylor Horton (17), Joshua Jones (16) and Max Egan (13) on a fifth-place finish in the 200-medley relay (2:00.88).

Willette and Tibbetts weren't the only ones making waves at the state meet.

Jack Mitchell was runner-up in the 13/14-year-old 50 backstroke (28.01) and finished third in the 13/14-year-old 50 freestyle (24.23). Mitchell joined his twin brother Matt, and twins Joey and Robbie Ellwanger to capture sixth-place in the 200-medley relay in 2:01.34 and seventh in the 200 freestyle relay (1:48.10).

The top girls relay team was the 14-under 200 medley team of Kate McCalley (14), Beth Ward (13), Sara Lane (11) and Katarina Jones (13), which swam in 2:30.95 and finished 20th.

Unsung heroes help carry Conyers

When discussing some of the reasons Conyers captured its first American Legion state title in 20 years, names like Cameron Gibson, Chunk Smith and Kelvan Diaz fall easily off the tongue.

But another group of players may not have grabbed headlines, but their performances went a long way in helping Conyers to a dominant, 4-0 mark at Hunter Park last weekend.

· The bullpen: While each starting pitcher put together at least six innings of work in each of the four games, the Post 77 bullpen was no slouch.

David Lockwood, the only pitcher to throw more than once in the tournament, relieved a tiring Beau Thomas in the seventh inning of the opener against Alpharetta and tossed two scoreless innings.

Jimmy Gerard, one of the more recent additions to the pitching staff, finished the win with an eight-pitch ninth inning.

After Anthony Bazzani pitched eight innings of four-hit ball against Canton, Brandon Crumbley pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

In the championship game, Travis Tarleton relieved Brandon Thomas with the tying and winning runs aboard in the seventh and got a ground out, then worked around a leadoff single in the eighth to pick up the save.

Overall, the bullpen allowed five hits and two earned runs in 62/3 innings (2.71 ERA).

"We are comfortable that we can score if our pitching and defense can keep us in ballgames," said coach Eddie Bagwell. "And we did it. The individual pitching, the relief guys (all pitched effectively)."

· Bottom of the order: The Nos. 7-8-9 hitters came up with big hits the entire tournament, led by shortstop Nick Wooodward (.461 average).

In the four games, the bottom third of the order, which included Crumbley, Brandon Thomas and Taylor Jackson, hit .318 with 11 RBIs.

· Solid defense: Before the summer season began, Bagwell preached defense, and his players responded in the state tournament.

In the opener against Alpharetta, right fielder Ross Roberts made three dazzling plays to help starter Beau Thomas.

In the two wins over Douglasville, the defense turned four double plays and in the four games, Conyers only made errors.

"We played great defense," said Bagwell.