GPC hosts pair of region tournaments

COVINGTON - Georgia Perimeter College will be busy with activity this weekend as the girls play host to the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association Region 17 softball tournament while the boys baseball team welcomes South Georgia College in a best-of-three first round playoff series.

The first game of the tournament begins at 2 p.m. today with the Lady Jaguars playing against the winner of the Middle Georgia-Young Harris game at 8 p.m.

The Jaguars face South Georgia with the first pitch coming at 7 p.m. today and the second game starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. The third game will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday, if needed.

In the girls tournament, once the first round is completed, the final four engage in a double-elimination format, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday. The championship round will be played on Sunday.

Besides having home-field advantage, clutch hitting also would help as GPC tries to maximize its opportunities at the plate to compensate for pitching concerns.

"You get your home crowd," Lady Jaguars coach Ed Schutte said. "You're familiar with the field. You get to sleep in your own bed. It has to help a little bit.

"If we don't get timely hits, Middle Georgia can beat us. Darton can beat us."

Middle Georgia already has - twice. The Lady Warriors swept a doubleheader on the Newton campus, in extra innings. The Lady Jaguars split a twin bill at Darton.

Some key players include sophomore second baseman Heather Hodge (Eastside), who has had a hot bat lately. Also from Eastside are sophomores Kelly Reents, a catcher, and Christie Rice, an infielder.

During the winter, Georgia Perimeter College baseball coach Danny Blue pored over his roster and schedule, then came to a conclusion.

"A realistic goal in trying to rebuild the program was to have at least a .500 season and make the playoffs."

Now, in the sparkle of spring, the Jaguars have rocketed past their coach's modest objective. They finished the season with an overall record of 38-14 and were 20-4 in Region 17 (Georgia Junior College Athletic Association). They have claimed the regular-season region title and the No. 1 region tournament seed that goes with it. It represents Georgia Perimeter's first baseball title this decade.

The Jaguars will play host, on the Newton Campus, to a best-of-three first-round series today though Sunday, as will the other three top seeds in the eight-team field.

The four series winners will gather May 8 through 10 in Douglas for a double-elimination event to determine the region champion, a status GPC has not enjoyed since 1999.

Should the Jaguars survive, they would proceed to a district showdown against the representative from Tennessee. The last stop would be the National Junior College tournament May 23 through 31 in Grand Junction, Colo.

Blue's bullpen-by-committee, paced by sophomore Brent Hendrick (Brookwood), has been stifling. The coach calls on sophomore Jesse Richeson (Duluth) and freshmen Rob Crosby (A Beka Academy), Tyler Akins (Mill Creek) and Jake Dyer (Salem), among others.

Other local players include Matt Bishop (Heritage) and Drew Dentler (Salem).