The student-run online newspaper for Starr's Mill High School

The Prowler

The student-run online newspaper for Starr's Mill High School

The Prowler

The student-run online newspaper for Starr's Mill High School

The Prowler

Vengeance is ours

Panthers sweep North Oconee, return to state championship
Adebola Adepoju
Sophomore Brock Rein celebrates after an out. Starr’s Mill baseball swept North Oconee in the AAAA state semifinals, 12-8 and 13-1.

After being knocked out by the North Oconee Titans last year in the state semifinals, the Panthers returned the favor this year by sweeping the Titans 12-8 and 13-1. Starr’s Mill advances to the state championship for the first time since 2021.

“[Going to the championship] is amazing, it’s domination,” senior Heath Whitlock said. “We’re gonna keep it up, we’ve got two more.”

The Panthers struck a balance of offense and defense in the first game where they won 12-8.

Senior Max Prozny dives for a base. Prozny scored a solo homerun to start the first game. (Adebola Adepoju)

Senior Max Prozny collected three hits, one of which was a solo home run in the team’s first at bat of the game. Seniors Bo Walker and Austin Killingsworth hit back-to-back home runs. Senior Charlie Clem, Walker and Prozny collected two runs each for the team in the first game.

“We’re not surprised [at the result of the games],” Prozny said. ”We know we’re that good and we’re celebrating now but we’re not surprised.”

Prozny started off the game with a solo home run. By the end of the second inning, the Panthers were up 4-0. After Whitlock came off with an injury in the third inning, junior Aiden Wilson relieved and got two total strikeouts but North Oconee was able to put up 6 runs and take the lead. Starr’s Mill retaliated in the bottom of the 4th inning with back-to-back homeruns by seniors Walker and Killingwsorth.

“When you get people on, you get people in big moments where stuff happens and you just have to keep cheering your teammates on and just keep playing ball,” sophomore Brock Rein said.

The sophomore defensive duo of pitcher Brock Rein and catcher Daniel Briskey closed out the game with a total of five strikeouts.

“Honestly, it was kind of nerve-racking because I wasn’t expecting to play but Brock had to go in so I had to go in with him,” Briskey said. “I played with him all summer and so I just knew him really well. I just had to keep him with me and just ready to play.”

The Panthers had a great offense in the second game where they mercy ruled the Titans, 13-1.

Walker led the team with three total runs and two hits. Whitlock hit a solo home run in the first inning and contributed two runs in two at bats. Senior Drew Richardson was the star of the second game where he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning.

“I was struggling a little bit and I just needed to have a good hit,” Richardson said. “When it finally happened, it was a grand slam.”

Senior Austin Sellers hugs his grandmother after the games. Sellers contributed one run and three hits. (Adebola Adepoju)

The fourth inning brought in nine total runs for the Panthers. In the bottom of the fifth, Clem snagged the game-ending fly catch that finished the mercy rule over North Oconee.

Junior Kyle Rudolph pitched in the second game where he only surrendered seven hits and one run over five innings with two strikeouts.

“I battled out there but my team had my back,” Rudolph said. “[My teammates] were putting up runs left and right, so it was real easy.”

This is the Panthers first time back to the state championship since 2021. In that game, they won the state championship for the first time in Starr’s Mill baseball history in a double header against Loganville. 

After going to a third game Monday evening, Cherokee Bluff will face Starr’s Mill in the AAAA state championship this weekend.  The best-of-three series begins at 5 p.m. this Saturday in Rome, Georgia.

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