The incredible run to the final round of the baseball postseason by North Hall was a great way to round out an incredible high school sports season in Hall County.
To put the Trojans’ accomplishment into context, the last time a Hall County program made it all the way to the baseball finals was nine long years ago when Lakeview Academy won the 2004 Class A title.
“I felt as the season progressed we gained confidence,” Trojans coach Trent Mongero said. “We were always focused on the next task at hand.”
North Hall’s playoff experience didn’t culminate with a celebration as they had hoped, after narrowly dropping both games against six-time state champion Cartersville, but the season did include many highs along the way.
The Trojans rolled to the Region 7-AAA title, earning the top seed to the playoffs. They won on the road in the quarterfinals against the 2012 state runner-up in Class AA, Pierce County. Then the degree of difficulty went up with a win in three games against top-ranked Blessed Trinity in the semifinals.
The state championship match was compelling from beginning to end. North Hall trailed in Game 1 much of the way, but never threw in the towel.
In Game 2, the Trojans were neck-and-neck with the Purple Hurricanes behind a superb pitching performance from Colton Duttweiler in his final high school outing. Cartersville claimed the series on a walk-off single in the seventh inning with a full moon hanging beyond the left-field fence.
North Hall’s players were clearly distraught about losing afterward, but hopefully that feeling lifted quickly. The Trojans, with a new school-record 32 wins in a single season, had the entire school community rallying to support their success.
Mongero confirmed that team chemistry his team enjoyed was just as much a factor in the team’s achievement as the tangible stuff like hitting, fielding and pitching.
Talking about spring success in high school sports, it started with the Gainesville boys golf program reeling off its second consecutive state title, this time in Class AAAAA. The Red Elephant boys rolled to a nine-stroke victory with all four scores at 4-over par, or better.
After winning all 10 events this season, and so much talent set to return in 2014, it’s almost a guarantee that Gainesville will remain the program to beat for seasons to come.
The high school soccer season also finished on a high note with the East Hall boys making a run to the state semifinals.
Will this run of great success across the board continue next season? Probably. The talent is deep across the board, regardless of sport, and expectations are high for programs looking to stake claim to those prized state titles.
Bill Murphy is a sports writer for The Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.