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High school baseball: West Hall keeps up hot streak with 8-0 win over Lumpkin County
West Hall's Braden Simms delivers a pitch during a game against Lumpkin County on Monday, March 29 at West Hall High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

When the high school baseball season was cut short last March due to COVID-19, West Hall coach Brannon Humphries knew that if the 2021 season happened, his players couldn’t take it for granted. 

“We kind of focused in on a keyword for this season, which is hungry,” he said. “It’s just wanting them to be hungry, never be satisfied with where we are, even if it’s a win or a loss.”

So far this season, “staying hungry” is already paying off for the Spartans (15-5, 8-2 Region 7-3A). 

West Hall defeated Lumpkin County 8-0 Monday evening, the team’s fourth straight win, and 14th victory in the last 16 contests. 

The Spartans were led by Braden Simms on the mound, who started and struck out 12 in a complete game shutout, while going 2 for 3 at the plate and also reaching base on a walk. West Hall scored at least one run in each of the first four innings, getting 2 RBIs each from Justin Shaffer and Nick Sturm and 1 RBI a piece from Will Brannan and Michael Gaddy. 

Another win over the Indians on Wednesday or Friday of this week would give the Spartans their third series victory in four tries since the start of region play in their first year as a member of Region 7-3A, the only loss coming to Cherokee Bluff earlier in the month. If West Hall can lock up the series win, it would have the inside track to earning a playoff spot in an extremely tough region that includes both Cherokee Bluff and North Hall, both programs ranked inside the top 10 in the classification. 

Simms, who has been a member of the Spartans varsity team for the last couple of years, said experiencing losing seasons in 2019 and 2020 has helped to give an edge to this year’s squad.

“We’re just playing like we’re the underdog,” Simms said. “I feel like when we do that, it gets us fired up. Gets us playing like we want to play.”

So far, so good for West Hall. 

With 10 games left on the schedule, the Spartans have already won more games than in the last two seasons combined. And as long as they "stay hungry", Humphries said he doesn’t see a ceiling to how good the team can be. 

“I think the guys are playing harder, and when we’re getting into some tough situations in games or competing against some tough teams, they’re stepping up to that challenge where maybe in year’s past it could have overwhelmed them,” he said. “They’re just going and doing their jobs, playing the game the right way and the way it should be played.”