It's early in the baseball season, but already White County is proving to be a contender, riding a five-game win streak that has pushed them to No. 10 in the most recent gasports.com coaches poll.
After dropping their season opener at home to North Hall, the Warriors (5-1, 5-1 Region 8-AAA) have outscored their opponents 42-20.
They would be undefeated had they been able to maintain an early 9-3 lead against the Trojans.
However, it's worth noting that White County's original season opener against Grady was canceled, so the Warriors had to wait almost a week to finally take the field against North Hall, which had already played two games.
The reason they blew the big lead against North Hall was a struggling bullpen that, in one inning, gave up eight runs on five walks, three hits and a hit batter, while the Warriors defense committed an error.
As Warriors coach John Brown molds the bullpen, his biggest source of relief comes from starters eating innings.
The rotation includes proven hurlers David Sosebee and Luke Crumley, but the rest of the staff is looking to gain experience.
Freshman Spencer Adams is emerging as an early contributor. Last week in his varsity debut, he threw a complete game, striking out six in a 4-2 win against Chestatee.
"We've been trying to find somebody," Brown said. "During the whole game, Spencer was a pleasant surprise. We've had a hard time getting a complete game, so when he came in and went the distance, that was a really big plus for us. That's what we're looking for, and hopefully we found it.
"But he's only a freshman."
Adams' only high school experience heading into the Chestatee game was a JV start, which he also won.
Brown is also expecting production for junior Justin Hester, who had no varsity experience heading into the season.
BIG RED LOOKS TO GET BACK ON TRACK: No. 6 Gainesville fell to Lumpkin County, 9-7, on Wednesday in front of the home crowd in Region 8-AAA play.
The Red Elephants must right the ship quickly. A showdown with No. 3 Oconee County looms Friday.
Was it possible Gainesville (7-2, 4-2) overlooked Lumpkin County (2-4, 2-4) in anticipation of today's game against the first-place Warriors?
"I don't think that happened," Red Elephants coach Jeremy Kemp said. "We just didn't play too well, and they did.
Lumpkin is a good team and they showed that (against Gainesville) - they might not have shown it every game, but they definitely did (Wednesday).
The Red Elephants have little time to dwell on the loss with Oconee County coming to Ivey-Watson Field for a 5:55 p.m. contest.
"It's a huge game," Kemp said. "Oconee County is 6-0 in the region, so they're the team to beat. They've established themselves as that, as early in the season as it is. It's a great test for us. We've got a young ball team and we'll see what we're made of and if we can bounce back and compete."
NOT A BAD FIRST WIN: When West Hall sophomore golfer Malorie Smith won low-medalist honors at the Hall County championships earlier this week at Royal Lakes, it was her first high school victory.
She had come close to winning in the past - most notably finishing second in last year's Hall County championship - but finally breaking through is a big step Smith was ready to take.
"I feel like this is a new beginning for me," she said.
Perhaps most impressive about Smith's win was playing through tough weather conditions. Rains left the course wet, and cloudy skies with heavy winds were all factors.
Smith still believes she could have played better.
"Weather was certainly a conflict," Smith said. "I would say with the greens, as slow as they are, and the fairways as muddy, I shouldn't complain (about the way I played)."