Going 9-0 to start the season in any sport is spectacular. To do it the way the Dragons have done is just straight up insane.
“We try to stay within ourselves, and we make a competition with ourselves on having the most quality at-bats,” says senior pitcher and University of Georgia signee Lane Watkins. “It’s obviously helping.”
Jefferson, the defending Class 4A State Champions, is dominating (that’s an understatement) anyone who gets in its way. The anthem is marching to a tune of 9.2 runs/game and just 1.6 per game allowed. All facets of the game are firing on all cylinders, as the Dragons are outscoring opponents 83-14.
“You hope you have this kind of start, but you didn’t really know what to expect,” says long-time legendary coach Tommy Knight. “We had a bunch of guys coming back, but our number one pitcher was gone. We had some guys that needed to step up, and they pretty much have.”
Knight points to the rainy weather as of late as not helping the program, but says the Dragons are still “figuring things out,” which is very scary for opposing teams.
The diamond Dragons feature a stout lineup and rotation, headlined by Watkins and guys like Zac Corbin (Kennesaw State signee), Ryan Godfrey (Snead State), Cole Watkins, Mason Cooper, Derek Vaughn, and Sammy Elegreet.
While it would be easy for many programs to rest on their success, coming off a state title and all, Jefferson knows it must stay hungry and humble.
“Coming into the year being ranked number one and everything, [we have] the bullseye on our back,” says Corbin. “We try to forget about last year, and continue to improve everyday. Humbleness is very important…this game is the most humbling game you can play.”
The Dragons moved down from 4A to 3A, but that doesn’t mean the level of competition will be easier.
“Our region is tough,” says Knight, who in his 30-plus years of coaching stated this team has a good mix of players. “The region we stepped out of was tough, and the one we moved into is tough. There’s some really good teams [in this region]. You want to play good teams in the region because once you get into the playoffs you’re battle tested.”
So far, only two teams have given JHS a run for its money — nearby powerhouse Stephens County, who took the Dragons to extra innings in a 2-1, 9-inning Jefferson win on Tuesday evening, and North Oconee in a 5-4 Dragon win on February 26. Those are the games that Knight says he’d like to see more of, because it gets his team ready for the big-time games down the road.
The nine-game win streak is nice, but it’s not the ultimate goal, even if it comes with a perfect 3-0 mark in region play.
“You want to go 9-0, but you also want to be playing your best ball at the end of the season,” says Knight. “We hope to keep it rolling.”
The Dragons have scored in double digits in five of their wins, and have four shutouts and six games in which they allowed one or less.
Jefferson returns to action Thursday at home against Stephens County in a rematch from Tuesday’s thriller.