9th grade baseball ends dominant season with tournament win


Jenson Mahr

Newnan player slides into second base after an attempt to steal. The Panthers relied heavily on their defense in a commanding 11-3-1 season.

Dylan Bayer, Staff Writer

After starting the season with an 8-1-1 record, the Panthers lost their last two games of the regular season, putting a question mark on how the team would perform in the season finale tournament. Despite dropping their last two games, they rallied in the tournament, coming out champions. 

The tournament started with a bang for the Panthers as they defeated Northgate 12-0. Riding the momentum from their previous win, the Panthers then went on to beat McIntosh 11-10 in a thriller.

The Panthers faced their most daunting task in the championship versus East Coweta, who was responsible for two of the three Starr’s Mill losses in the regular season. The Panthers entered the championship as underdogs, losing a close game to East Coweta in the second game of the season, and then fell once more to the Indians in a 14-2 blowout. 

“I was proud of the way they bounced back…We were run-ruled by East Coweta… We backed that up losing to Newnan,” coach Taylor Sweeney said. “It would’ve been really easy to quit there but they didn’t… I was really proud of them coming back and finding a way to win.”

The team focus for the Panthers was to play simple baseball, with well-rounded defense and offense.

“We just tried to keep it as simple as possible: pitchers need to throw strikes, on defense we need to catch the ball [and] make good throws,” Sweeney said.

The biggest area of improvement the team underwent during their season was on the defensive side of the ball. Pitching and defense improved for the Panthers as the year went on and contributed greatly to their tournament win. 

“These kids are already good baseball players,” Sweeney said. “It’s just how will they grow? Will they put the time in to workout and get stronger?”

The main focus for the players moving up next year is that they continue to workout and get bigger and stronger. A main goal during the off season for the players is to continue to work harder than everyone else and mold into better players.