The Gainesville A’s begin their quest for the American Legion state tournament against Douglasville in the North Georgia tourney at 9 a.m. today at Cherokee High in Canton. The A’s (21-11, 9-3) need just two wins in the double-elimination Area tourney to qualify for the state field.
No. 2 seed Gainesville heads into the eight-team field of the Area tourney as winners of its last two regular season match-ups against Conyers and Loganville — both by way of a forfeit.
The A’s have struggled this season against No. 3 seed Douglasville, losing three of four head-to-head contests.
Gainesville coach Clay Haynes still feels confident about his team.
"I feel really good about the way we’re playing right now," Haynes said. "I think our chances are pretty good."
Shorter College signee Josh Wright, a North Hall High graduate, is the anticipated starter for the first game. It will be Wright’s first start against Douglasville this season.
"Josh is a guy who knows how to pitch," Haynes said. "Whenever I put him on the mound, I know he’s going to do well."
The A’s offense has proved to be proficient all season with their ability to generate runs in the top of the batting order.
Gainesville is led by clean-up hitter and North Georgia College & State University signee Zach Bennett, and supported by outfielders Charlie Newman, Zeb Miller, infielder/pitcher Patrick Henry and shortstop Tyler Vaughn.
P.J. Krauss, Will Rowlett, Bucky Free and Blaine Martin have also supported the order with key hits.
"I’m always confident with our offense," Haynes said. "Everybody does the little things that help at the plate."
The state tourney is Aug. 1-5 at Middle Georgia College in Cochran. The top four teams from the North Area and South Area advance to the state field of eight.
Last season, Gainesville advanced to state out of the bottom part of the area field as a No. 3 seed.
"You always want to be number one seed, but the seed is what it is," Haynes said. "The seed doesn’t decide the winner of a game."
The seeding hasn’t kept the A’s from the excitement of the tournament, though, as they prepare to repeat last season’s success and beyond.
"The guys are really excited and having a good time," Haynes said. "Hopefully it stays that way come tournament time.
"They’re a great group of guys. They’ll battle for you."