Hello everyone, Jack Patterson again. I have been doing journalism for a good five years now and everyone gets to see what I do now via this blog. But I thought it would be a great idea to show you where and what I came from. So this page is dedicated to the past, when the "Jack Attack" was just catching on as my nickname, and people still mostly called me by my real name, Jacquez. As you will see, all of these are not sports-related (oh, yes, I can report real news too.) and a couple are editorials. So have fun on this look back from my time working with the Shaw High Silver Star, In The Game Magazine: Columbus Valley and a couple of stints at the University of Georgia Journalism Camp!
A Raider’s Revelation: The Memoirs
“Moving on is simple. It’s what we leave behind that’s hard”- Anonymous
Four years ago, while at East Columbus Magnet Academy, I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. Instead of going to Kendrick or the Early College Academy, where most of my friends were going, I decided to attend SHS. I thought that I would play baseball in high school and I wanted to play here.
But it is funny how people say that the goals we set are one thing, yet they change before we ever achieve it. It happens to everybody. I thought that I would be playing baseball but instead I have played tennis for four years. I had 11 wins this year in tennis and I’ve made the playoffs both my junior and senior season. I never thought about being a journalist, but I am the editor of an award-winning journalism staff and the journalism Page One nominee for the school.
I thought that leaving all of my friends would be the biggest mistake in my life. In some cases, I do regret it. I still miss the people I was close to at East Columbus. At the same time, I was blessed to meet people and develop relationships that have taken me to new heights. I would not trade the experiences I have had at SHS for anything.
The memories that I leave behind as a senior are countless. They extend further than your average senior. My first memory as a freshman was walking on the field at the Georgia Dome prior to the “Final Four” game against Carver. For me, it was almost like a dream come true. Being an Atlanta sports fan all my life, my dream was to play on the same field as the 1999 Atlanta Falcons …better known as the “Dirty Birds.” The view from the field looking up towards the dome gave me goosebumps. It is just a feeling I cannot explain.
The summer of my sophomore year, I traveled to the University of Georgia for a journalism camp. It was my first time away from home, and to say I had a heck of a time is an understatement. I got to have my work published in a paper for the first time and met people from all over the state. I still talk to some of them today. The experience was unbelievable. The most fun at camp was playing laser tag, which was awesome because my team dominated the counselors, while we were running around Grady College. I also hit a homerun that accidently hit a police officer on a bike (my fault, I was just playing baseball). At the end of the week was awards night (and karaoke party that ensued afterwards) held in the skybox of Sanford Stadium. That trip was crazy, yet fun.
My junior year was a year of change as far as athletics goes. The football team went 5-7. The tennis team made state for the first time in 12 years. Girl's volleyball went to the Elite Eight and the cross country team won the region. I covered these teams and learned a lot. The volleyball team shocked many people in the state; nobody thought that they would be in the playoffs. The same goes for cross country. The tennis team had to completely rebuild their team and in one year, made the playoffs. The football team beat Peach County for the second year in a row in the playoffs. In one year, there was a changing of the guard in sports teams here. Teams that were once strong and dominant, were now rebuilding, while teams that no one even cared about stepped up to carry the banner for SHS.
Then, came the senior year. So many things happened. The pep rallies were absolutely crazy and so was the homecoming dance and prom. The feeling of never doing something again hits me. Any senior athlete will tell you, when it comes time for your last game, everything goes out the window. If you gave 110 percent during the season, you gave 130 percent for that last game. When that last game ends, the emotions flow, no matter how tough you are. The one thing I will always remember in that last match vs. West Laurens is how I played with Zack Moss, a sophomore. We lost that game. He came up to me and told me, "I'm sorry man. I tried my hardest out there." Two years ago, that was me, just a sophomore finally getting a shot to play on the big stage. I was playing with a senior, in what turned out to be his final game. I told him the same thing Zack told me. It did not mean anything to him when I said it, but then again, it was his last game. Those words that he told me is what I will remember the most about my senior season.
It almost feels like a movie when the crazy adventure ends, and everybody is sitting around and a song starts to play as the movie ends and the credits start to roll. This adventure may be over, but the sequel… will be even better.
For the Love of the Game
There is one thing about being a Raider athlete that bothers me. When I walk through the halls of SHS, this is what most students say about our athletic teams. “You play (name of sport)? I heard you guys _____ suck!” How do you expect teams to play without the support of our OWN school! As evidence, during the school year, I have seen some of our students wear apparel from other schools. This makes a statement: their heart is somewhere else.
Every time I step on the tennis court, I am proud to put on the silver and black and red that represents our school. I am proud of the 30 plus years of tradition that those colors represent. So it’s truly a sickening sight when our own student body, who should support our athletic programs, make life miserable for our athletes.
And as far as team success goes, SHS has had most of its teams make the state playoffs in the last five years. Not many schools in Muscogee County can say that. Here are some stats to think about. Both basketball teams made the state playoffs this year. Both of the tennis teams made the playoffs last year, for the first time in over a decade. The softball team has continued their winning ways, while playing in one of the toughest regions in the state. Raider wrestling constantly produces state championship contenders (including Gregg Goosby, who finished second in state this year) on a regular basis and our track teams are perennial state powerhouses (the girls’ team has won eight region titles in a row). Cross Country won the 2008 region 2-AAA title and finished tenth in state. Volleyball has finished second in the region the last two years, going to the state “Elite Eight” in 2008. Our baseball team, who won the 2001 AAAA state title, have been the runner-up twice since 2000 (‘02, ‘05), returned to the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. Also, the soccer team has shown that they are ready to make their run to the playoffs. My point is that every one of those teams are, or have been, state playoff contenders. We should be proud of these accomplishments.
Oh, by the way, do not get off the football team bandwagon over one bad season. Every team, no matter what sport, what school, has a bad year or years. The definition of a true fan is when you stick by your team when times are good AND bad. Honestly, before any of us came to SHS, the team struggled (ask any teacher, and there are plenty, who went to SHS) back in the day. And to those of you, who think marching band and color guard is not a sport, go out and watch them practice and then tell me you can say that. They work just as hard as any other athlete, so that when the lights shine bright on Friday nights in the fall, they can rock the house. The same argument can be made for all of our cheerleaders. Do not forget about swimming and golf. Yes, we do have those teams, they practice and play just like everybody else. Just what makes those people lame? Nothing does. They are just like any athlete, and just like any athlete, deserve respect.
I am not saying that athletes should be treated like royalty, nor am I suggesting that students should forfeit their social life to watch the Raider teams. There is no greater feeling for an athlete (besides winning a championship) than being recognized for their hard work, determination and dedication. My advice: go to some of the games and wish all of our Raider athletes good luck. If you are a sports fan, athlete, or both, then you will appreciate the love of the game.
Raider Football: A State of Shock
This is definitely not what anyone from the Shaw Raiders expected. Nobody thought the Raider football team, who started the season ranked third in Region AAA, would be 0-4 at this point in the season. Granted, the losses were against teams in higher classifications, but still shockwaves were felt throughout the Chattahoochee Valley.
The Raiders began their season “across the river” in Phenix City, AL against interstate rival Central in what one sportscaster dubbed “The Battle of J.R. Allen” (named after the highway that connects the two schools). The game was exactly what the name said, a battle. From the Kyle Griswould touchdown on the second play of the game to the Toriano Holt interception return for a touchdown, both teams fought back and forth. In the end, the Red Devils punched in the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left. The score was 33-32.
The next week, the Raiders headed north to Tyrone, GA to play the Sandy Creek Patriots. This game featured the ninth ranked teams from Regions AAA (Shaw) and AAAA (Sandy Creek). This game was a defensive battle all the way through, with the score at halftime 10-8 Patriots. The Raider offense came alive when Tarvarus Lewis led a drive late in the fourth quarter to score the go-ahead touchdown. With 1:15 left in the game, the Patriots took over inside their own 20, needing a touchdown to win the game. The Patriots used their running game to move quickly and with the help of a 15 yard late hit penalty, Sandy Creek had the ball at the Raiders 35 yard line with five seconds left. The Patriots then threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass as the clock expired for a 17-16 win. The Raiders suffered their second one-point loss as in many weeks.
Looking to rebound from two tough losses, the Raiders traveled to Douglas, GA to take on Region AAAAA powerhouse Coffee. This game started off as a defensive battle as Shaw’s offense, led by backup quarterback DaMario McFadgen, could not manage any points and Coffee could only get a field goal for a 3-0 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, the Trojans’ running game scored three touchdowns to take the win 24-0.
After three road games, the Raiders returned to Kinnett Stadium to take on Alabama 6A power Stanhope Elmore from Montgomery. The Mustangs got off to a fast start by going deep for an early touchdown. Lewis and Griswould would lead the Raiders down field for a touchdown to make it 7-7 at the half. The Raider defense took over with a fumble return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Shaw would hold the 14-7 lead until late in the fourth quarter, when the Mustangs finally broke through for the game-tying touchdown, sending the game to overtime. After both teams scored in the first overtime, the Mustangs capitalized on a Raider turnover and kicked the game-winning field goal. The Mustangs won 24-21 in double overtime, sending Shaw to their fourth straight loss and the third loss this season by less than three points.
In a region highly affected by realignment, each region matchup is more important than ever. The Raiders start region play on Sept. 26 at Callaway Stadium to take on the seventh ranked LaGrange Grangers in a key Region 2-AAA matchup. After games against Northside and Columbus, SHS will take on the defending AAA State Champion Carver Tigers in a highly anticipated Homecoming game on Oct. 17. After a game at Troup and an off week, Shaw will celebrate Senior Night at Kinnett Stadium against the Kendrick Cherokees on Nov. 7.
Raider Spotlight: The "Jun"-ious Choice
Power + agility+ speed = a high school running back. For the Raider football team, that running back is senior Alex Junious. The first year starter had big shoes to fill, with the departure of many of the Raiders’ offensive weapons from the 2008 season. Not to mention facing a tough schedule that included Central (Phenix City, AL) and the AAAA state championship team from Sandy Creek. To say he was facing pressure, is an understatement. Yet Alex fought tough throughout the season and was a bright spot in a lackluster season for the Raiders.
One of SHS' top athletes, Alex started playing football when he was eight, on the Northeast Packers little league team. He continued to play in middle school before coming to the Raider nation in 2006. However, when he arrived, he was at the bottom of a very talented and deep depth chart at running back. With players such as Arsenio Williams and Bryan Willis, who ran over teams in AAA and led Raiders to a state runner-up finish in 2006 with consecutive playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008, in front of him, Alex had to be patient. He paid his dues to get his shot in his senior season.
One of the top athletes at SHS, Alex admits that his game has improved while playing for the Raiders. “Even though I switched positions, it seemed like I would learn the position quickly and excel at that position,” says Alex. His workout efforts do not just include school, but also works out on his personal time as well. “I work out about three or four times a week, just to stay in shape for the season….” Alex gets a lot of his motivation on and off the field from his father, a military veteran. “I follow what he does, he is a good influence towards me and I try to be like him. He fought in Somalia in 1993, so I have a lot of respect for him.”
During his time as a backup, he was allowed to play only when the game was out of reach for the opposing team. Alex says this is when his an important moment in his career happened. “I can’t remember who it was against, but I had I major touchdown run. For me, it was a milestone…it felt like I was (finally) stepping up.”
As for the future, Junious has received attention from many schools, such as the new program at Georgia State, Auburn, along with Middle Tennessee State, and Division 2 powerhouse, Valdosta State. However, the University of Miami has been looking at him for his academics as well as his athletics. Wherever Alex attends college, he says that he wants to pursue a psychology major. As far as his first year in college goes, his goals are simple. “My freshman year I just want to make good grades, make the honor roll. Just continue to work hard.”
Spring Sports Preview
As we turn into the new year, Shaw sports are getting ready for the long haul. Coach Tammy Taylor hopes to lead the SHS swim team to new heights this season. Both basketball teams are heading into the playoff stretch. Coach Terry White and Coach Lindsay Dunton have led their teams to good records for the year at time of print.
January also means practice starts for the soccer team, under first year head coach Mikal Underwood. Tennis practice also starts, led by seniors Jack Patterson (boys) and Ikeya Carter (girls), both the Raider and Lady Raider tennis teams look to make the state playoffs in back to back years for the first time in over a decade.
The eight time and defending region champion girls track team looks to make it number nine under coach Edgar Johnson. Coach Pablo Sanchez leads the boys track team against region 2-AAA to regain the region playoff spot from years past. Also the golf team starts practice in North Columbus.
With all these teams’ seasons getting started in February, Raider Nation will definitely be abuzz, as teams make their playoff push into the spring.
Raider Spotlight: Determination On and Off the Field
On the field, he is one of the top players in the southeast. In the classroom, he is one of the best in the senior class. Put them together and you have Shaw’s starting varsity linebacker and defensive end, Marcus Stetzer.
Stetzer has a 3.9 GPA and is President of the National Honor Society. He is also a member of the Raider Report (Shaw’s school news program), Beta Club, Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Skills USA and Leadership Council. Marcus’ GPA is among the top 10 in the senior class. He was also named Mr. SHS by the faculty of Shaw.
In athletics, he was a three year varsity starter for the Raider Football team and a two year varsity starter in soccer. Marcus is a highly recruited student, as he has received the attention of Auburn, Vanderbilt, Wofford, Georgia State, Valdosta State and Princeton. Stetzer was also named in Schuman’s Top 100 recruits in the Southeast.
Marcus’ most fond memory of his athletic career at Shaw came in the winter of 2006, his freshman year, when the Raider Football team played Carver in the State Semi-Finals at the Georgia Dome and later at the State Championship game against Peach County. “I was actually dressed out in full pads for those games; it was an experience I still remember to this day.”
His future looks bright. His goal is to be in the NFL one day, but he has a backup plan. Marcus hopes to major in physical therapy in college.
Re-writing the History Books
Four years ago, the Shaw Raider Boys’ tennis team was an afterthought in Region 2-AAA. There were five freshmen on the team, only three experienced players on the team and the expectations were low. Then, the tide changed.
In late 2007, Laurie McInroy, who at the time was assistant softball coach, was announced as the new head coach of Raider Tennis, hoping to turn the program around. It did not take long for the Raiders to send a message to the region: times were about to change. The team went from a non region threat to beating teams such as Hardaway, Harris County and Northside. The team finished fourth in the region during the regular season and earned a rematch with Harris County for the right to go to the state playoffs. The good luck ran out. Seniors Marcos Rivera and Bobby Means closed out their careers with wins and solidified their All Bi-City status, but the doubles teams could not hang on and a poor performance from singles #3 sent the Raiders into the long summer, thinking about what could have been.
However, the team was already looking forward to next year. Thinking that they were only going to lose three seniors to graduation was huge motivation. Also, Harris County, the team that eliminated them two years in a row, moved to AAAA. The boys thought it was their year. That is when the bottom fell out. In addition to the three seniors graduating, two players transferred to Columbus. Two players moved, two quit and one was injured and out for the season. With the season only two months away, the only athlete that the Raiders had left from the previous season was Jack Patterson, a junior who had only six varsity wins in two years.
The team rebuilded, with players like Ryne Hauck and Mitchell Thornton, who started at singles and the additions of Jake Elkins, Denver Robles, Faisal Khan and Zack Moss, along with Patterson made the Raiders’ doubles teams better. The season came, and many had Troup County taking the all important fourth spot in the region.
The team used that as motivation for the season. When the Raiders went to Troup County, it showed. The Tigers were shutout by the Raiders for the first time. It was a bright spot in a season who many thought the team was in a rebuilding year. In the beginning of the season the team goal was to qualify for state. In the region tournament, that goal became reality as the team shutout Troup again, this time clinching a spot in the state playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Although the Raiders were eliminated in the first round by Crisp County, they finally silenced the critics.
Heading into the 2010 season, the team was on a mission. Make the top four in the region, qualify for state and aim for the “Sweet 16” for the first time in school history. At the beginning of the season, they made that known. After a opening day loss to Marion County, the Raiders started rolling. The singles consisting of Hauck, Thornton and freshman Aaron Broom dominated their matches as Shaw would go on to shutout Hardaway, beat Carver and Central-Phenix City twice and shutout Troup for the third straight time. It was in the second Central match that the team gained one of its power players back in the return of junior Larry Watkins. He would team up with Patterson, now a senior, for the first time in two years. The duo, nicknamed “Team Franchise” would live up to the name and dominate their match against the Red Devils, while Perry Valentine would step up and seal the 5-4 win over Central in #6 singles and in the process, sweep the season series.
In March, the Raiders took their show on the road and proved that they could beat teams outside the Chattahoochee Valley. The JV team would go on to win the LaGrange JV Invitational by defeating Northside, Central-Carrollton and Carrollton. The next week, the varsity boys played in the 19th annual Granger Invitational. They would lose to McIntosh in a match that had three games end in tiebreak, then proceed to beat Eagles’ Landing and Heard County 4-1. The two wins in the Granger Invitational pushed the Raiders record to 9-4, breaking the school record for wins in a season.
The Raiders hope to continue to develop in the final two region matches of the season with LaGrange and Columbus. The boys will end the season on the road at Marion County on April 1 before the Region 2-AAA tournament on April 13-14. Tennis is alive at Shaw and the expectations have reached new heights.
Swinging for the Fences
Lady Raider softball has been a region 2-AAA powerhouse for several years. The team has been to the Elite Eight five times since 2000, eight times since 1996. This year may be number nine, under the guidance of second year head coach Laurie McInroy.
Coach Mac attributes the foundation of the team to former Athletic Director and softball coach, Dr. Debbie Ball, who dedicated 30 years to Shaw athletics. Ball believed in the mottos, “Tradition never graduates” and “Hard work beats athletes that don’t work hard.” Coach Mac and her assistant coaches, Cindy Preston and Rebecca Duncan, work to instill that mentality in their players.
Watch your back. . .
Your parents say they trust you . . . do they really?
It is late at night. Mike is getting out of his car without making a noise. He walks inside his house, trying hard not to make a sound and wake his sleeping parents. Suddenly the lights in the living room click on. His parents demand in a stern tone, “Where have you been?” Mike tries to use an excuse but his mom cuts him off. She explains that they installed a GPS (global positioning system) tracker in his car. Mike was shocked because he knew he had been places he was not allowed. Mike’s dad took his car keys and license from him; along with his freedom.
Although this is not based on a true story, many high school students have experienced a situation similar to this. With the availability of GPS tracking, SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module) readers and car cameras at parents’ fingertips, teens need to be aware there is a good chance… someone may be watching.
Big Brother GPS Locator/Tracker from Securacom GPS
This product has become popular. “Big Brother” can track cars and teen drivers. None of the settings of the GPS tracker can be changed once they are set. Another feature is an E-mail or text messaging system, which tells the parents when the driver is going over certain speeds or leaves a certain area. The tracker also allows the automobile to be remotely locked and unlocked. Go to http://www.teentracking.com for more information.
Cell Phone SIM Card Spy
People with “significant others” should pay close attention to this product. With the Cell Phone SIM Card Spy, any text message that is sent can be viewed on a computer. Some phones do not have SIM cards, but those that do, the Cell Phone SIM Card Spy can access all text messages, even those that are erased. Some of the phones that can NOT be used with this product are the Verizon phones, smart phones (such as Blackberry, iPhone, and the Sidekick), Alltel (CDMA) phones, some Nextel/Sprint 2-way devices and some prepaid phones. A word to the wise, do not send an inappropriate text message with a phone that has a SIM card.
Rear View Mirror Car Camera Recorder Pro
This camera can actually attach to a rear view mirror. It automatically starts to record when the engine starts and it provides real-time audio and video playback. It records onto a 1 GB memory card, the mobile DVR (Digital Video Recorder) will show the date and time of the recording and the device has a video output which allows the footage to be shown on virtually any TV. In addition to the video and audio, the device allows the driver to see behind. For informative videos on this product check out http://www.brickhousesecurity.com.
Times have changed since our parents’ high school days. “Back in the day”, they could do what they want and not get caught. With new spy innovations, high school students definitely have to watch their back. –Barbara Casebolt , Staff Reporter and Jack Patterson, Sports and Website Editor
Texting gone wrong...
Since January, there have been many reported "sexting" instances. Most teens think it is harmless but law enforcement has a different view. Recently, students across the nation have been arrested on child pornography charges. "Sexting" is a felony.
"Sexting" can be defined as a regular text message with slight sexual language or any picture with nudity. Whatever the case may be, the consequences are still the same. "It's a bad idea. Once the message is sent, you can never get it back." said Mrs. Bridget Marshall, Media Productions teacher at SHS.
Many experts say that this trend is on the rise. According to an article in the Buffalo (NY) News, more than one in five teen girls have sent some sort of nude picture and nearly 20 percent of teen boys have done so as well. Dr. James Arnold, principal commented, "If the best you can do is to love by telephone, then your social life is sad."
Some school officials say that one-half to two-thirds of their students are sexting according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Mrs. Stephanie Fuerte, English teacher had this to say, "One should have enough self-respect to keep something that is supposed to be private, private."
Be careful, whether it is a picture or a text, because a “sexting” offense may come back to haunt you.
Juniors, the time is now
Our time to be the leaders of the school is almost here.
Some people dread this day. Some embrace it. In only a couple short weeks, the seniors will “pass the torch” to the class of 2010. It is a huge responsibility for us, SHS juniors, to represent the school with pride, tradition and respect. Also, we must set a good example for future Shaw Raiders.
However, it is not the time to "goof off" in class or undermine authority figures of our school, nor is it the time to act the fool and do things that do not make sense. It is time to apply for college, take the SATs but also to have fun. Being a senior is not just a title, it is a lifestyle that changes the way we view things and the way other people view us.
Being a senior is building on the past while planning for the future and working in the present. You cannot play around the first three years of high school and then step up your senior year. By then, it may be too late for your GPA, it may be too late for the SAT and it is definitely too late for the HOPE Scholarship. While an senior student has to live with the past and take care of the present, you have to plan for the future. Take trips to look at colleges, registering for the armed forces or getting your high school diploma is just the first step of the rest of your life. With all of that aside, you still have to work for the present. You still have to get 28 credits to graduate; you still need to pass the graduation test (if you have not already) and you still need to work hard in class.
Granted, time seems to move slower than a turtle, but May 21, 2009, the last day of school, will be here sooner than we think. Every second and everything we do matters, because recommendations will be needed and teachers will remember the legacy we left in their class. So enjoy the ride, because just like they say, “You can’t script October,” you cannot script your senior year.
When we walk through the doors of SHS on August 6, 2009, it will be a brand new story. . . (to be continued)
Freedom Is Not Always a Good Thing
No child left behind? More like no child left behind, but let the schools in your district tank. You may ask, “Why do you say that?” I can say that because I am living it.
In my hometown of Columbus, there are eight public high schools under the jurisdiction of the Muscogee County School District. In 2008, four of the eight did not make Adequate Yearly Progress, AYP for short. AYP consists of three standards: test participation, academic performance and a second indicator (in the high schools, it is the graduation rate.)
By law, a parent can transfer their student from a school that does not make AYP in two consecutive years. In Muscogee County, you can ride the district’s shuttle bus service (usually reserved for magnet program students) for free. However, students have taken advantage of this opportunity to further their education. Students are transferring to AYP passing schools just to hang out with their friends who may be there to get a better education or it may be their home school. It’s dropped some of Columbus’ best schools to mediocre levels and it’s a crying shame.
Students transferring from a school with a 56.1% graduation rate and who have not made AYP since inception of the program to a school with a 79.8% graduation rate and have made AYP since inception. What do you think is going to happen? The teachers said it was not going to be pretty and look what happened two years later. The school with the 79.8% graduation rate still has that rate, but has not made AYP for two years straight.
Something has got to be done about this. Before letting people transfer, interview them to see if they would actually benefit from transferring. It would alleviate a lot of problems and would bring some of the Muscogee County high schools back to prominence, like it was four years ago.
Call it a revelation, call it what you want, but three years of this bull is enough. Fix the problem and save the district.
Diamond Dogs head back to Omaha
After winning the NCAA Athens Super Regional, the Georgia Bulldogs baseball team, led by top-20 draft picks Gordon Beckham and Josh Fields, are poised to make a national championship run. The Bulldogs improved to 41-23-1 and clinched a spot in the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb. This will be the sixth time in school history and the fourth time this decade that the Diamond Dogs will head to Omaha.
The Southeastern Conference regular season champions are 4-2 so far in the NCAA playoffs, outscoring their opponents 90-49 in six games. With wins over Lipscomb, Louisville and Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs won the Atlanta Regional, and advanced to the Athens Super Regional, where they eliminated No. 15 North Carolina State, winning in a best-of–three-game series.
The opening game of the College World Series will not be easy for UGA, as they will take on the Miami Hurricanes, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN on Saturday, June 14 at 6 p.m. The Hurricanes (52-9) are the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament champions and defeated the Arizona Wildcats in the Miami Super Regional to make it to Omaha. “We are in a special place. This team has been around and been through it all. Look at last season when we were 23-33 and we come back and are SEC Champions and going back to Omaha.” said UGA coach David Perno to a reporter. “We have great kids here and they are champions. We have great leadership and we just showed that we were not going to be denied.”
And speaking of leadership, two Diamond Dogs were taken in the top 20 in the MLB Draft. Shortstop Gordon Beckham was drafted eighth overall by the Chicago White Sox and relief pitcher Josh Fields was drafted 20th overall by the Seattle Mariners. , “I wouldn't be surprised to see both of them contributing on the big-league level by 2010.” ESPN.com editor James Quintong said in an email. “The one thing with college players, especially those taken very high in the draft, is that they could reach the majors pretty quickly.”
Right now, Beckham seems to have the edge for having a long-term career in the MLB over Fields. Quintong said, “He'll find a place in the middle of the White Sox infield, either at second or short, and he's got a good bat that should make him a mainstay at the top of the lineup for a numbers of years.” Quintong said. “The White Sox are a bit lacking in prospects in their system, but especially in the middle infield, so Beckham fills that hole nicely.”
The White Sox currently lead the American League Central Division by 6 ½ games over Minnesota.
As for Fields, Quintong said that he may come through the Mariners farm system fairly quickly. “Fields lands with a Mariners team that has had some issues in the bullpen this year, and with their overall struggles, might even give him a shot near the end of the season,” Quintong said. “Early on, he might not do much more than be a setup man, but he could earn his share of saves with [in] a couple of years, depending on what happens with their current closer J.J. Putz.”
The Mariners are currently in last place in the American League Western Division, 16 ½ games behind the Los Angeles Angels.
After the season concludes, the Diamond Dogs will not only lose Beckham and Fields, but also infielder Ryan Peisel and starting pitcher Nick Montgomery to graduation. But look for guys like pitcher Justin Grimm and infielder David Thoms to fill the holes left in the roster.