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Athlete of the Week: Fields, Dragons stay hot in 8-AA
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Honor Roll

Luke Crumley, White County: Struck out 12 while giving up only one hit Tuesday and hit two home runs Wednesday.
Chaiz George, Union County: Hit a three-run home run, two triples, a double and a single with four RBIs over the week.
Blake Gowder, Union County: Earned a win with eight strikeouts on the mound while going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs Saturday in a doubleheader sweep over Walnut Grove.
Kyle Hardy, Jefferson: Went 2-for-4 with a home run Tuesday and earned a win with nine strikouts on Saturday.
Nathan Hewell, North Hall: Pitched a complete game, allowing two hits while striking out six in a win over West Forsyth on Wednesday.
K.J. McAllister, Gainesville: Hit two home runs with three runs scored and two RBIs over the week.
Brady McCarter, Union County: Threw five innings with seven strikeouts in a win on Tuesday and went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs on Saturday.
Jamie Sexton, Jefferson: Two wins with six strikeouts from the mound while going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a home run and a triple at the plate over the week.
Sloan Strickland, Gainesville: Had three hits with four RBIs in a win on Wednesday.
Trae Wilson, Johnson: Hit two home runs, a double and had four RBIs last week.

Alexis Daniels, North Hall: Won the 100 and 200-meter dash Monday at North Hall.
Sallie Davis, North Hall: Placed first in the 400 and 800-meter Monday at North Hall.
Kelli Moore, North Hall: Placed first in the long jump and triple jump Monday at North Hall.
Randy Olson, North Hall:  Won the 100 and 200-meter dash Monday at North Hall.

Phillip Abrahamsen, Flowery Branch: Scored two goals in a win over White County on Thursday.
Erly Acosta, Flowery Branch: Scored two goals in a win over White County on Thursday.
Andrea Cardoso, Chestatee: Scored three goals over the week.
Luis Carrero, Johnson: Recorded seven saves with a blocked penalty kick in a win over West Hall on Thursday.
Ruben Castro, Johnson: Scored two goals in a win over West Hall on Thursday.
Cassidy Elrod, Flowery Branch: Scored two goals in overtime in a win over North Hall on Tuesday.
Russ Puckett, Gainesville: Scored three goals Tuesday in a win over Lumpkin County.
Carlos Sanchez, Gainesville: Scored two goals in a win over Lumpkin County Tuesday.  

Austin Booker, Lumpkin County: Carded an even-par 72 in a win Thursday at Achasta.
Camryn Cole, Gainesville: Carded a 38 on Thursday and a 36 Tuesday to earn low-medalist honors twice over the week.

As the Jefferson High School baseball team headed out to practice Monday afternoon, senior Jake Fields turned and asked coach Tommy Knight, “Do we need balls?”

Knight nodded and Fields trotted back into the hitting room to retrieve a bucket of balls for practice.

“That’s the kind of kid he is,” Knight said. “He’s the best player on our team and he goes and gets a bucket of balls.”

“Best player on the team” is a title that Fields is earning so far this season.

Last week, Fields was 6-for-9 with two three-run home runs and two doubles at the plate.

And although he did not earn a win from the mound, the 6-foot-3 pitcher has done more than his fair share for the Dragons (13-1, 10-0 Region 8-AA).

Coming into the season, Knight knew that he had two reliable starters on the mound in Fields and fellow-senior Jamie Sexton, but he was unsure about the rest of the staff.

“I thought we could count on those two, Jamie and Jake, but the other three, I didn’t know what to expect but they’ve done a great job.”

Those other three, Kyle Hardy, Jared Kimmel and Connor Phillips, have combined with Fields and Sexton to give Jefferson’s pitching staff and overall earned run average of less than 2.50.

With wins on the mound against teams such as Madison County, Walnut Grove and Dawson County this season, Fields is known for going deep into games and striking out opponents.

Despite his apparent prowess on the mound, the Middle Georgia commit isn’t sure if he is going to pitch or hit at the next level.
“I really don’t know yet,” he said with a shrug. When Fields isn’t pitching, he plays catcher and first base.

When asked if he might try to do both, pitch and hit, Fields smiled and said, “That’d be nice.” Fields admits to preferring the bat in his hands because, as he puts it, “that’s something that just comes natural to me.”

He has, however, “done a lot of work on (pitching),” and doesn’t shy away from stepping to the rubber.

The Dragons are going to need Field’s arm on the mound, and his bat at the plate, if they are going to repeat as Region 8-AA champions and head back to the state playoffs.

Jefferson finished the 2009 season at 22-6 before losing to Blessed Trinity in the second round of state and, with eleven seniors on the team, this year they may be even better.

“I think offensively, we’ve hit the ball a little more and defensively I think we’re doing pretty well,” Fields said.
But he doesn’t think that the Dragons have reached their full potential.

“I don’t think we have, like, boomed yet. I don’t think we’ve hit our peak yet,’ Fields said.

The upcoming week would be the perfect time for just such a boom.

Today, Jefferson visits North Oconee at 5:55 p.m. Jefferson and North Oconee are the only remaining undefeated teams in Region 8-AA.  Thursday, the Dragons play host to Banks County at 5:30 p.m. The Leopards are 7-3 in Region 8-AA and well within striking distance of the top. Friday, Jefferson plays host to a rematch with North Oconee at 5:55 p.m.

So, by the end of the week, Jefferson could be in the driver’s seat at 13-0 in the region, or they could be at 10-3 and tied for second or third.

To Knight, it is just such speculation that requires the team to focus on each individual game.

“After we got done with Fannin County, we got in our huddle and one of the kids said, ‘Big games next week.’ I said, ‘No. Every game we play is a big game,’” he said.

Knight paused and said more emphatically, “No game is bigger than any other one.”

The upcoming week is certainly going to prove him right.
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