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A season cut short

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JCHS seniors cope with missing half their final season of baseball

  • Article Image Alt Text
    C.J. Whitehead pitches for the Greyhounds during his shortened senior season. CHUCK THOMPSON/Staff
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Logan McCoy pinch-hits during one of Jones County’s final games before the shutdown. CHUCK THOMPSON/Staff

If this were a normal spring for Jones County High School’s baseball team, the Greyhounds would have likely been playing in the first round of the state playoffs this week.

That’s what they almost always do. Only three seasons in the last 25 years did the Greyhounds fail to advance to state. They were riding a fiveyear streak heading into this season.

But it has not been a normal spring.

The team struggled early, losing its first six games. Bad weather forced several games to be postponed. The Greyhounds were only 1-8 when region games began on March 7. Several seniors quit when the coaches decided to go with some younger players in the starting lineup.

But things were finally beginning to look up. The weather improved, and the Greyhounds won two of their first three region games.

“We had the rough start, but I think we were turning a corner,” said coach Jason Page. “We were playing better. We were getting good weather. I thought we had a good chance to get turned around and make a good run in region play and get back to state.”

But then came the shutdown for the coronavirus. School was closed on March 13, and spring sports were suspended for at least two weeks.

Coaches and players hoped the season would resume at some point.

But the orders to keep classrooms closed kept being extended, and finally, on April 1, the governor ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the school year. The Georgia High School Association followed suit by canceling all school sports for the rest of the season.

“I sure didn’t think it would all end up like this,” said C.J. Whitehead, one of four seniors still playing for the Greyhounds when the season ended. “It just messed the whole year up. I feel like we were just getting started. The last few games we had come together as a team. I did think we could get to the playoffs.”

A pitcher and first baseman, 5.19 X 5 Whitehead had hoped he might be recruited to play in college. But now he is planning to go to Brewton-Parker in August to continue his education.

For now, he stays in touch with guys from the team by phone, and he is doing his online school work and working every other day with his father, who owns a tile and flooring business.

“The school work is pretty easy. I’ve enjoyed having more free time, but to be honest, it is pretty boring now.”

Infielder Logan McCoy, Jones County’s only returning full-time starter from last season, had already had his senior season go sour before the virus came.

He had torn an ACL during football season and had to rehab hard to get ready for baseball. But he hurt his knee again in Jones County’s opening game, and he missed most of the games the Greyhounds did get to play.

He had just gotten back on the field in a limited role wearing a knee brace when the shutdown came.

“I was hoping I’d be able to play some the last half of the season, but that didn’t happen. It’s really disappointing,” McCoy said. “Not just the baseball, but everything about the way our senior year is finishing – no sports, no prom or senior leadout, maybe no regular graduation. And being away from our friends.

“We still do some group chats and check in to see how everyone is doing, but it isn’t the same.”

He said he has coped by going to the lake a lot and hunting when he can.

“At least that hasn’t been taken away.”

He plans to attend Georgia Southern in the fall but wonders if his first semester will have to be online.

“It’s a whole different world we’re living in now,” said Page. “I hate it for all our guys, but especially the seniors. They probably never get to play again.

“Garrett Baughman had already signed in football, but Logan, before he hurt his knee, C.J. and Dom Bass maybe would have had a chance to play baseball in college, if they wanted that. Now, that may not happen. It’s just heartbreaking.”