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Waiting’s over: State playoffs next for Greyhounds

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    Jacob Thompson waits for the throw to arrive so that he can tag out a runner stealing third base last week at Houston County. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Catcher John Alan Richter takes a big cut to put the ball in play against Houston County. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Starting pitcher Jacob Thompson settles under a pop fly last Wednesday at Houston County. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Tucker Mix and the Greyhounds open the state playoffs on Wednesday at Wayne County. BRAD HARRISON/Staff

The lull’s over for the Greyhounds. Next up? The state playoffs.

Since the first week of April, Jones County has been in an unusual position compared to past years.

Due to the alignment of the region schedule, the Greyhounds knew for nearly two weeks that they’d be in the GHSA Class AAAAA state playoffs and their likely opponent.

“This is first time in 20 years I have been coaching baseball that you knew so early on,” Greyhounds head coach Jason Page said. “It is a different mindset to try and have your kids focused on playing well. We’ve played five games since we knew who we’d be playing. It’s definitely been different.”

Since then, it’s been nothing but non-region games, a stretch that ended last week in 14-4 and 11-1 losses to Bleckley County and Houston County. Houston County, by the way, won its region in 1-AAAAAA and the opponent in the previous Friday’s win, West Laurens, also won its region.

“Part of it is my fault. I think we really focused on trying to say that ‘it’s the playoffs,’ but it’s hard to get kids mentally prepared as far as playing these games,” Page said, “because in the scheme of things, they understand as far our record, this doesn’t help us as far as getting in the playoffs.”

Now, having taken on stout competition outside the region, the state playoffs await on Thursday at Wayne County, the top seed from GHSA Region 1-AAAAA. The Yellow Jackets are 24-5 overall, having gone unbeaten in region play. Jones County is 16-12, and the Greyhounds are ready to flip the switch and get ready for a time of year that all players dream of being part of – the postseason.

The best-of-three series begins at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday with the third game, if needed, on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Page is confident that JCHS will be ready to go. After all, this is a team that prior to last week had won six of seven contests, so having confidence is not expected to be much of an issue for the Greyhounds entering the postseason.

“We’ll just focus on Wayne County and hope we can put our best baseball on the field,” Page said. “We’ll go back and focus on us and get prepared and hope go down there and play one of best games of year.”

While the Greyhounds starting pitching rotation for the series could waver, odds are good that both Jacob Thompson and Landon Califf stand a strong chance to be leaned on heavily. Whoever the Greyhounds hand the ball to on the pitcher’s mound, there should be no shortage of options with recent game experience. Last Wednesday at Houston County, Thompson, Califf and Ben Gordon got work on the mound with Dawson Harris, Austin May and Bryce Harrison getting time pitching the day before at Bleckley County.

“We wanted to get guys some work no matter the outcome,” Page said.

Jones County and Wayne County have two common opponents, Warner Robins and Veterans. The Greyhounds beat Veterans 2-0 and 9-5 and Warner Robins 5-3 and 14-0 while the Yellow Jackets topped Warner Robins 18-1 and 15-0 and Veterans by scores of 7-3, 9-1 and 6-5.