Trent Mongero knew long before the season started that his North Hall baseball team could have a special year in 2013. He just didn’t picture the Trojans coming two wins shy of hoisting the Class AAA state championship, which would have been the school’s first.
“Honestly, our staff felt before the season started that we had a bunch of really quality kids, who had been in the system for a longtime and had bought into our philosophy,” Mongero said. “We really felt like we had a chance to have something special. Now, we weren’t able to obviously predict that it would turn out as fabulous as it did.”
Under the leadership of Mongero, the Trojans put together the best season in school history, finishing with a 32-6 record (20-1 in Region 7-AAA), and as Class AAA runner-up after falling to Cartersville in the state championship series in May.
For his team’s magical run, Mongero is The Times All-Area Coach of the Year.
With Mongero serving as the head coach, the Trojans rode their five seniors and became the first Hall County team to advance to the state baseball championship series since Lakeview Academy in 2004. Their 32 wins also set a school record, surpassing Mongero’s best season as North Hall’s coach (2007) by 11 wins.
“I had some time to reflect on the season over the past month or so, and it has really hit me how special it was,” Mongero said. “This team just came together so well. They put the team first, focused on the little things. The leadership, the chemistry, the improbable comebacks and amazing things that took place in the playoffs, it was just really a magical season.”
After losing the third game of the season 5-1 against North Gwinnett, the Trojans won 26 of their next 27, including a 4-0 record in the first two rounds of the state playoffs. North Hall finished the season with a 20-1 region record, two games better than second place finisher Buford, the only region team to beat the Trojans.
After rolling through the first two rounds of the state playoffs, the Trojans took to the road to face reigning Class AA runner-up Pierce County. After having their 17-game winning streak snapped in Game 1 of the quarterfinal series, the Trojans bounced back to win the final two games and advance to the semifinals to face top-ranked Blessed Trinity.
In the semifinals, the Trojans split the first two games and then won the decisive game three with a 4-0 shutout, advancing to their first-ever state finals.
Despite the outcome of the state championship series, Mongero said he has no regrets about anything that happened in 2013.
“We gave it everything we had,” he said. “That was the focus of our team every day. We feel like if we focus on the process and everybody gives 100 percent effort then we are winners, regardless of what the scoreboard says.”
Moving forward, North Hall faces the challenge of replacing its five seniors and continuing to play at a high level.
“Every year is a new year, it is a new group of kids,” Mongero said.
“You want to (keep) the positives, the things that worked well. You feel like when you have a season like this past year that the younger players get a really good feel of what they need to do to carry on success.”