The city of Columbus, Ga. has not been a travel hotspot for Spalding High this season.
The Spalding girls basketball and soccer teams have lost to Columbus teams in the playoffs (Kendrick beat the SHS girls in basketball and Columbus High defeated the SHS girls in soccer) and the Columbus boys golf team just won the state AAA title (SHS finished fourth).
Now it’s the Spalding baseball team’s turn. Their mission (and they have to accept it) is to face the No. 1 ranked baseball team in Class AAA, the Columbus Blue Devils, on the road in state second-round playoff action today with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.
If there is a split, the deciding game will be played at Columbus High Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.
Spalding (22-5) is coming off two first-round shutouts of Westover (5-0 and 15-0) while Columbus (24-4) smashed Liberty County 11-0 and 14-1 to advance.
“I told the guys that there is a ‘Columbus factor’ but we have a ‘Spalding factor’ ourselves,” said Spalding Jags head coach Mickey Moody. “These teams know that when Spalding comes to town, in any sport, we’re going to compete and if the other team’s not focused, we’re going to win.”
Spalding will need all the confidence it can muster to defeat a Columbus team that has not lost a game in Class AAA all season. The Blue Devils have lost to two AAAAA teams (Parkview and Mill Creek) and two AAAA teams (Marist and Heritage-Conyers).
“They’re a very solid ballclub, for sure. They are very athletic, have great team speed and they can hit the ball,” Moody said. “They are your typical No. 1 seed in the playoffs. I anticipate a great series.”
What makes Columbus even more dangerous is they have two very talented left-handed pitchers who can throw 86-89 miles per hour.
“If we throw strikes and make the routine plays, I know we can go toe-to-toe with Columbus and win,” said Moody. “All we have to do is stick with the things we’ve been doing all year. I’m excited for our guys to play this team.”
Moody said it will be a game-time decision on whether to start Casey Moody or Dylan Griffin on the mound in Game 1. Both players are coming off great games against Westover, with both players pitching five shutout innings each game. Columbus will also have to deal with Spalding’s hot bats (four players — Moody, Griffin, Pat Gasses and Austin Hurt are batting over .400, Hurt and Moody with school records in runs and RBIs, respectively).