Junior centerfielder Taylor Garrett is batting .650 so far this season for the Bulldogs. (Daily Home)
ALPINE — The success that the Winterboro football and basketball program had this season has carried over into baseball.
This season, the Bulldogs have the opportunity to make the postseason for the first time in school history.
“Being at .500 this late in the season is special,” Winterboro head coach Brandon Brown said. “I know the kids are excited about it. This will be our first playoff appearance since I can remember. Baseball is an after thought around here, and to be successful in it is a testament of the program as a whole. We had a successful football season, we had a successful basketball season, and it’s just like they expect to win at this point.”
The Bulldogs (4-4) will have to win their next two area games against TC Central and Wadley. Winterboro beat TC Central 14-1 in their earlier meeting and they topped Wadley 9-1. Brown said his team still thinks about last season’s loss to Wadley, which eliminated them from a berth in the postseason.
“We ended last season on a low note,” Brown said. “We went to Wadley and we got beat really bad. We didn’t have a full crew out there we had some kids missing. That made us excited to get the season started and they knew they were good until the last day last year. They knew they had it in them, and they set it as a goal for themselves to make the playoffs. So far they are doing a great job making it happen.”
Brown credits his players for the success that they are having so far.
“Our centerfielder, Taylor Garrett, has been carrying us,” Winterboro head coach Brandon Brown said. “He is batting .650 right now. He is carrying the offense and doing most of the damage. Another guy that is coming through for us is Casey Goins. He's a ninth grader. He is batting third this year, and he batted ninth last year, so he's really improved. I think the main thing that has helped us is a kid like Jonathan Harris coming out and starting at first base for us. That filled a hole that we needed to have filled. He has done everything that we have asked him to do, and he has done it better than ever I imagined he could. It has been a total team effort. Everybody knows their job, and they don’t worry about anybody else’s.”
Garrett, a junior outfielder, is elated about being this close to making the playoffs.
“It is a good feeling, because we have not done this in a long time,” Garrett said. “If we play to our full potential we can beat both of those teams.”
This season, Garrett has doubled his batting average. He credits his success to the hard work he put in the offseason.
“I have practiced on my hitting since the summer,” Garrett said. “I hit balls at home. I was trying to work on batting from last year. I came from .300 last year, now I am batting .600, so I have been doing pretty good this year. I have been doing better in the field. I am starting to judge the ball better in the outfield. I had to adjust from playing infield to outfield and it was a hard adjustment, but I have made it work.”
Freshman pitcher Michael Goins said the team chemistry is the best it has been in his three seasons on varsity.
“This team is a lot different than last year’s team,” Goins said. “We have a whole lot more team chemistry. We have become a family like in football season. We all came together, now we are working hard, we come to practice every day and we respect the game. Last year, we weren’t worried about baseball — everybody thought baseball was a big push over. This year, we can make it to the playoffs. This year we are having a lot more fun.”
Andrew Pitts said he is looking for revenge against Wadley. He believes hosting Wadley could make a difference.
“Wadley is something we have been working on since the game last year,” Pitts said. “We had a chance to go to the playoffs and they beat us. Ever since last year we’ve had a nasty taste in our mouth. The first game of this year we accomplished it and it’s not football you have two chances. We are going to play them on our home turf this time and hopefully show them how it is done.”
Even though TC Central has struggled this season, Pitts knows that the Fighting Tigers can easily beat them on Saturday.
“Anything can happen in baseball,” Pitts said. “We beat them 14-1 in the first game, but they can beat us 14-1 the next time.”
Read more:The Daily Home - Bulldogs holding on to postseason hopes