The Central High School baseball team began the season with a sluggish start, but rebounded with some positive momentum shortly before sporting activities were suspended by the GHSA over COVID-19 precautions last week.
Lion head coach Wes Shiver is pleased with his team’s effort and determination since the beginning of the season and is anxiously awaiting to see what unfolds from here.
The Lions fell to an 0-5 record out of the gates and picked up their first win at home against Bowdon in late February.
“We didn’t really play up to our capabilities to start the season and we struggled defensively,” Shiver said. “Last week, we played seven games and evened up our record to 6-6. I’m really pleased with how we were playing last week and it’s unfortunate that we were stopped when things really seemed to be clicking for us.”
The Lions won six of their last seven games and were hoping to ride the momentum into a tougher slate this week. Central was scheduled to begin region competition on Monday against Troup County, but its season, like everyone else across the state, is now on hold.
Shiver noted that he was especially impressed with the performance from his pitchers over the last couple of weeks.
“Casey Casseen had been our guy pitching since the start of the season and his ERA stands at less than 1.00 right now,” Shiver sid. “He had only given up one earned run through four starts and one relief appearance, so I’m hoping that he can continue that success once we get back on the field.”
Central senior Hayden Hall is another player Shiver said has stood out on the mound this year. Both Hall and Casseen had been stringing together quality performances on the mound with both strikeouts and runs allowed.
“I feel like we’re starting to get dialed in very well,” Shiver said. “We’re being led in hitting by Korben Waldrop. He’s batting over .450 and hitting in our leadoff spot and playing outfield. Mason Rollings is also a guy who’s really doing well at the plate, he’s batting over 400. Those two guys really carried us early in the season until some other guys really got going.”
Shiver said his team has relied on the experience of some standout seniors like Ross Helton who have paid their dues and worked hard to be in a position to lead the Lions to a playoff berth, should the season continue. He praised Casseen’s performance on the mound and in the batter’s box.
“I can’t say enough about Casey and what he’s done for us pitching, as well as hitting,” Shiver said. “When he’s not pitching, he usually plays in the outfield for us. So he’s been really valuable, as well as some of the other seniors we have.”
Shiver said that he feels like his team was building up steam to pick up some crucial region wins this week. Like so many other coaches and players across the state, Shiver is now forced to sit and wait, hoping that the season will resume.
“Going into this week, I feel like we played our best baseball yet,” Shiver said. “We’re not quite at the top of our game, but we’ve been playing much better and competing much better than we were to start the season.”
The Lions will look to compete against region powerhouse Cartersville this year, as well as other opponents like LaGrange, which has made routine playoff appearances over the course of the last few seasons.
“Our top competition in the region is Cartersville,” Shiver said. “They lost a lot of seniors from their team last year, but they are still a great ball club. LaGrange is also a tough opponent that we look forward to playing. Cedartown is also very competitive, so we really have our work cut out for us. It’s a really tough region lineup.”
Central’s squad has the means this season to compete with the powerhouse region opponents that have dominated 5-AAAA. Shiver said that he is hopeful high school sports will resume soon, and that the GHSA can develop a plan to extend the season for spring sports and the many seniors who are facing their final season.
“We’re taking precautions, and I think it’s the right thing to do at this time,” Shiver said. “I hope this is not the last time these seniors get a chance to play. I hope we can get back out on the field and let them play some more whether we push the season back and extend it. It’s just a waiting game at the moment.”