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Athlete of the Week: Maddox spurs Big Red offense
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Honor Roll

Will Anderson, Lumpkin County: Had two hits with a home run and three RBIs in a win over West Hall on Wednesday.
Hunter Anglin, Gainesville: Threw six innings with four strikeouts in a win on the mound while going 5-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored last week.
Andrew Bartek, Jefferson: Hit two home runs in a win over North Oconee on Tuesday.
A.J. Benefield, Johnson: Had three hits, including a two-run home run, in a win over West Forsyth on Monday.
Kevin Clifford, Chestatee: Threw a complete game with eight strikeouts in a win on the mound last week.
Nick Drury, Lakeview Academy: Went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run, a double and three RBIs in a win over Social Circle on Monday.
Jake Fields, Jefferson: Pitched a complete game while hitting a solo home run in a win over North Oconee on Tuesday.
David Gonzalez, Gainesville: Earned the win on the mound with ten strikeouts while going 2-for-3 with a three-run home run and four RBIs in a win over Pickens on Wednesday.
Ryan Griffith, Gainesville: Had six hits, with an RBI and two runs scored in three games last week.
 Chase Grizzle, Lumpkin County: Complete game win on the mound and two hits from the plate in a win over Gilmer on Monday.
Dylan Lee, White County: Hit a solo home run and collected three hits in a win over Pickens on Friday.
Rafael Mendoza, Chestatee: Went 5-for-8 with three RBIs last week.
Austin Robinson, Jackson County: Earned a win on the mound while going 5-for-8 with four RBIs last week.
Cory Sanderson, Flowery Branch: Went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and an inside-the-park home run in a win over Chestatee on Wednesday.
Jamie Sexton, Jefferson: Threw seven strikeouts on the mound while hitting three home runs last week.
Taylor Simpson, Lakeview Academy: Earned the win on the mound while going 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in a win over Social Circle on Monday.
Blake Stacey, Johnson: Threw a complete-game shutout with seven strikeouts on the mound last week.
Sloan Strickland, Gainesville: Had five hits and two RBIs last week.
Taylor Whitmire, Johnson: Hit two three-run home runs last week.  
Rob Williams, Jackson County: Six innings pitched with four strikeouts while going 5-for-8 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored last week.

Grant Cagle, Johnson: Finished second overall with a score of 69 at the North Georgia Classic on Monday at Achasta.

In the last four games, the Gainesville High baseball team has outscored its opponents 52-9, including an 18-3 route of the second-place team in Region 7B-AAA, Lambert on April 5.

During the span, the Red Elephants are averaging more than ten hits per game.

This offensive outburst has been led, in part, by junior second baseman Will Maddox.

Against Lambert, in arguably the biggest game of the season so far for the Red Elephants, Maddox was 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored.

He managed to carry that offensive production into a another Region 7-AAA match up on Wednesday, this time against Pickens.
In that game, Maddox went 3-for-4, including a grand-slam home run, while amassing five RBIs in a 12-0 Red Elephant win.

To finish off the week, Maddox hit a home run in Gainesville’s 9-5 win over Flowery Branch.

For his efforts, Maddox is The Times Athlete of the Week.

This is Maddox’s third year on varsity, and he feels he has improved every year.

“I’ve gotten stronger (each year), and really fixed my swing,” he said. “When I was a freshman it wasn’t near like it should be. I wasn’t hitting anything hard and now I’m finally starting to hit the ball with power.”

The six home runs Maddox has hit this year prove that.  

Maddox isn’t the only Red Elephant hitting with power this year.

Gainesville has amassed 176 runs through 17 games this season, with 10 games of 10 runs or more. The run production is a big reason the Red Elephants (16-1, 11-0) are sitting atop Region 7-AAA.

But it’s not the hitting which has coach Jeremy Kemp excited, it’s Gainesville’s pitching.

“(We have) a great young staff,” he said. “Coach (Adam) Miller, our pitching coach, has done a great job with the guys.”

So far this season, Gainesville pitchers have combined for three shutouts, three games in which opponents scored only one run and fifteen games in which Red Elephant opponents have scored five runs or fewer.

The combined records of Gainesville’s top three starting pitchers reflect Kemp’s excitement.

Freshman Hunter Anglin is 7-0, and sophomores David Gonzalez and Stephen Mason are both 4-0, while sophomore Ryan Griffith has put in more than 15 innings of relief work while earning one win.

“(The) freshman and sophomores throwing for us (are) doing real well,” Kemp said.

There is also one stat which Kemp feels has been overlooked so far this season: stolen bases.

The Red Elephants have 79 stolen bases through their first 17 games. The Gainesville school record is 80, and this year’s team still has eight games to play.

“People forget about that,” Kemp said.

With the production that Gainesville is getting at the plate, on the base path, and the strong effort coming from the mound, it’s no wonder that Kemp is “confident” when the subject of making a run into the state playoffs comes up.

Maddox agrees with his coach.

“I think its possible,” he said. “We have a really good, young pitching staff that throws strikes, and as long as they keep throwing strikes and we keep playing good defense, we’re gonna keep hitting the ball.

“We’ll go as far as we take ourselves.”

That kind of attitude is why Kemp calls Maddox “a complete ball player.”

“He does everything, he can run a little bit, he hits for power (and) he hits for average,” Kemp said of the 5-foot-10, 170 pounder.  

Those attributes are the reason Maddox has already heard from college scouts representing schools such as Coastal Carolina in South Carolina and Kennesaw State.

“But no offers so far,” Maddox said with a laugh.

Offers are expected to come, however. Maddox currently bats second in Gainesville’s line up, but Kemp said that over the summer he batted both first and third in the order.

“He can do any of them,” Kemp said.

When asked just why it is that Maddox is able to consistently produce at the plate, Kemp’s answer was quick and emphatic.

“The thing that separates Will is that he loves to practice,” he said. “He loves to work and improve his game.”

Improvement is a key word for the Red Elephants, who finished sixth in Region 7-AAA last season and missed the state playoffs.

Currently, the closest teams to Gainesville in Region 7-AAA are Lambert and Creekview (both 9-2 in the region). Gainesville’s final two games of the season will be against their closest competitors; Creekview on April 28 and Lambert on April 30.

Whether or not the Red Elephants head to the state playoffs may come down to the to those two games.

As Maddox puts it, “only we can beat ourselves.”

The Red Elephants return to action when they play host to Chestatee at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday.
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