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Athlete of the Week: Johnson's A.J. Benefield
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Honor Roll

Baseball

Dylan Lee, White County: Pitched a complete-game shutout with 16 strikeouts in 7-0 win over Chestatee.
Chris White, Johnson: Went 2 for 3 with a three-run home run and five RBIs in a 13-1 win over Meadow Creek.
Jordan Green, Johnson: Pitched a five-inning complete game with five strikeouts and one run allowed in a 13-1 win over Meadow Creek.
Michael Gettys, Gainesville: Went 3 for 4 with four RBIs in a 13-5 win over West Hall.
C.J. White, East Hall: Recorded three hits (two doubles) and two RBIs in an 8-7 win over Rabun County.
Preston Graham, North Hall: Pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over White County.
David Gonzalez, Gainesville: Pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout and recorded eight strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Oconee County.
Trae Wilson, Johnson: Went 2 for 2 with a three-run home run and a two-run double to finish with five RBIs in a 15-10 win over White County.
Hunter Anglin, Gainesville: Pitched four innings, struck out six and allowed no runs in an 11-0 win over Franklin County. Added two hits and three RBIs at the plate.
Cole Runyon, Lumpkin County: Went 2 for 3 with a home run and the game-winning hit in a 5-4 win over Walnut Grove.
Zach English, West Hall: Pitched six innings, allowed three hits and one earned run, and struck out nine in a 9-3 win over Chestatee.
Jonathan Woodring, East Hall: Pitched six innings, struck out nine and allowed three hits in a 7-1 win over Rabun County.
Dylan Dalton, Habersham Central: Went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and pitched a five-inning complete game in a 12-1 win over Salem.
Taylor Foster, Banks County: Pitched a no-hitter and struck out 18 batters in a 1-0 win over Dawson County.
Brenton Ruark, Banks County: Pitched a complete game, allowing two hits and striking out 13 in a 6-0 win over Dawson County..500

Soccer

Lindsey White, Buford: Recorded a hat trick in a 10-0 win over Clarkston.
Cassidy Elrod, Flowery Branch: Recorded a hat trick and one assist in a 4-0 win over Winder-Barrow.
Leo Manzo, Flowery Branch: Recorded a hat trick in an 8-1 win over Winder-Barrow.
Thomas Davis, Flowery Branch: Recorded five assists in an 8-1 win over Winder-Barrow.
Ryan Marcano, Riverside Military: Recorded his second hat trick of the season in a 9-0 win over Towns County.
Tatiana Castillo, East Hall: Scored five goals and 1 assist in a 10-0 win over Hart County.
Saul Lopez, East Hall: Scored three goals in an 8-0 win over Hart County.
Tristian Bailey, North Hall: Recorded a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Lumpkin County.
Ryan Marcan, Riverside Military: Recorded a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Georgia Military Academy.

Golf

Parks Brown, Gainesville: Shot a 74 to lead Gainesville and Team Georgia to a win at the Georgia-South Carolina Cup.
Madeline Harr, Gainesville: Shot a 40 in a win over White County and Habersham Central, and shot an 84 at the West Hall Tournament to finish in second place.
Meg Callahan, Gainesville: Shot a 40 in a win over White County and Habersham Central; Shot an 83 at the West Hall Tournament to finish in first.
Maddie Caldwell, Dawson County: Shot a 37 in a loss to West Hall.
Ryan Matthews, North Hall: Shot a 37 in a win over Lumpkin County; Shot a 76 for fifth place at the Kell Classic.
Lee McCoy, Habersham Central: Recorded a two-day total of 7-under at the Georgia-South Carolina Cup to finish as the low-medalist.

Track

Gabriell Hoffman, North Hall: Finished first in the pole fault and 110-meter high hurdles in a win over Johnson and East Hall.
Latavia Cheeks, Johnson: Finished first in the long jump, triple jump, 400, 400 relay and 1600 relay in the team’s second-place finish against North Hall and East Hall.
Ithello Cross, North Hall: Finished first in the shotput, 110-meter high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles in a win over East Hall and Johnson.
Jamond Witt, East Hall: Finished first in the 100, 400 relay and high jump in his team’s second-place finish against North Hall and Johnson.
LeNiesha Kearse, West Hall: Finished first in the 100-meter hurdles, triple jump and third in the 300 hurdles at the Longhorn Invitational Tuesday.
Maia Caldwell-Booker, West Hall: Finished first in long jump and 200, and second in the 100 at the Longhorn Invitational.

Tennis

Dane Allen, East Hall: Continued his undefeated season with a 6-0, 6-0 win in the Vikings’ 4-1 win over Banks County.
Lucas Martin/Matt Booth, North Hall: Won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles in a win over Franklin County.
Anna Kate Shaw, Flowery Branch: Recorded 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles in a win over Madison County; Won 6-0, 6-0 in a win over Winder-Barrow
Durden Smith/Bekki Benton, Flowery Branch: Won 6-1, 6-0 in a win over Winder-Barrow.Kelsey McCray/Alyssa Rice, North Hall: Won 6-0, 6-2 in a win over Lumpkin County.

Compiled by David Mitchell

A.J. Benefield said it was the best game he ever played, and it’s doubtful he’ll get much argument.

In a 15-10 win over region foe White County on Friday, Benefield recorded three hits — a three-run home run, a two-run double and a grand slam — to total nine RBIs. To cap it off, he picked up the win on the mound in relief.

Coach Tony Wilson said the nine RBIs tied Benefield for the most by a player he’s coached.

For his efforts, Benefield has been selected The Times Athlete of the Week.

Going into the game, Benefield’s mindset was the same as ever: He wanted to have a good attitude, put good swings on the ball and put the ball in play.

When you can do that, he said, good things usually happen. But he never expected a performance like that.

“I always try my hardest and try to stay humble,” he said. “But after that game, even the next day I was still thinking how that was the best game I ever played. It’s easy to smile about, that’s for sure.”

And it came at a good time.

Wilson said that while Benefield had been a force on the mound for Johnson all season, the senior was still trying to get his hitting on track after joining the team late following basketball season.

After picking up two hits in each of the Knights’ first two games during the week, it was apparent things were starting to come around. Friday was a not-so-subtle announcement that he’s found his stroke.

“He’s worked hard and been taking some extra cuts,” Wilson said. “It paid off, obviously. He was more patient at the plate and was able to take advantage of some pitches.”

Already, Benefield had been one of the team’s leaders on the mound. With a 1.64 ERA, 36 strikeouts and 25 2/3 innings pitched, he had helped take the stress off a pitching staff Wilson said isn’t very deep.

“We don’t have a real deep staff,” he said. “So it’s nice when our starters can work long games. He’s done that well for us this year. Any time we give him the ball, he gives us a good effort.”

It’s a contribution the team can count on from Benefield throughout the season. While the individual performances are nice, he said, picking up wins as a team is still the most important thing to him.

“The team comes first,” Benefield said. “My teammates do a great job of getting on base in front of me, so my job is to try to get them across the plate. Luckily I was able to do that Friday. I was just happy I was able to finally put a full game together.”

It would be difficult for Benefield to be able to top that performance individually for the rest of the season or, perhaps, his entire life. But he said that as a team, the Knights can certainly top anything he’s done this season.

“Like I said, that’s the best game of my life,” he said. “And that’s exciting. But my goal is for Johnson to make the playoffs. That’s the only goal in my mind. Making the playoffs would top that individual performance any day.”

Despite a loss to Oconee County on Monday, he said that he’s confident his team can make that a reality.

“We just need to keep playing ball like we are,” he said. “Everybody needs to keep swinging the bat and playing quality defense.”

Johnson hosts Walnut Grove in Oakwood on Wednesday.

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