The Thomson High School baseball team enters the home stretch of the 2007 season finding itself in the midst of a losing skid. After opening the season with a five game winning streak followed by a four game winning streak, the Bulldogs have suddenly lost three of their last four games. Their overall record is 10 wins and four losses with a sub-region 3-AAA North record of 3-2.
During spring break, the Bulldogs continued their struggles on the road with a 10-2 loss to Washington County and a 5-1 loss to Washington-Wilkes. All four of the team's losses have come away from the friendly confines of their home field. Solving these road woes will be the key to Coach Terry Holder getting his team back into the playoffs this season.
My personal observation has been that this team was never going to be an offensive juggernaut but the pitching and defense was superb in the early season. Of late, while the opposition's bats have not exactly pounded the pitching, the hurlers have not enjoyed mastery of the strike zone like they did during the first 10 games.
The recent losing streak has also seen the club lose its focus in the field on the defensive side. Coach Holder and his staff go to extreme pains to school the team in the fundamentals of defensive play. Recently the performance of the Bulldogs in the field has been, well, painful. This is quite contrary from Coach Holder's preseason outlook and the team's early returns with the gloves.
So what suddenly has made defense a mystery for this team? Finding the answer to that question in order to support pitchers Stephen Krepps, Phillip Bonner, Justin McCorkle and Clint Rushing will likely decide the fate of the Bulldogs down the stretch. I'm betting on a return to solid play in the field.
The down-the-stretch run should bring better news for the Diamond Dogs. Five of the final eight games will be at home starting today, April 12, with a rematch against Burke County. The Bears handed the Bulldogs their first loss with an 8-2 decision on March 15. Butler will come to town for a sub-region contest tomorrow, Friday, April 13, and Richmond Academy will be here on Monday, April 16.
Two sub-region games are on tap next week as well. The team will travel to Glenn Hills on Tuesday, April 17, and will host Harlem on Friday, April 20. All of these games will be huge, but none will likely be bigger than the one with neighbor and sub-region leader Harlem. All remaining regular season home games will start at 6 p.m.
The team can continue to use a big fan turnout for the home games. The home crowds have become routinely significant in size, and more positive verbal support wouldn't hurt either. When you come out to the high school to watch, don't forget to bring your radio along and tune into 101.7 FM to hear the live broadcast on WTHO. The broadcasts are also streamed on the worldwide web courtesy of this fine newspaper, The McDuffie Mirror.
The press box at the Thomson High baseball field was recently dedicated to the memory of the late Adam McCorkle. Adam's brother, Aaron, is the Bulldogs' current starting catcher. Adam and Aaron's father, Rick, ramrodded an effort that started last year to build this facility to benefit both the baseball and softball squads. It is indeed a personal privilege to be part of the radio broadcast crew that works from the comfort of this booth.
The school board provided the concrete blocks and the rest of the building was constructed with donated funds, material and labor. Neal and Billy Tam were the chief architects and builders of the press box. Others contributing to the effort were Wayne Sims, Tommy Rushing, Ricky Bragg, Darwin Osborne, Ken Williams, Sidney Smith, Lem Brooks, Raymond Swann and Poole Heating and Air.
The Ben Blasingame family led the softball team in a fundraiser that purchased a state-of-the-art public address system in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Blasingame. Most of you know Mr. Bruce as a longtime principal and coach of Thomson High School. Numerous baseball and softball parents and the coaches also provided manpower needed to construct the press box.
Mr. McCorkle refers to the building of the press box as "a true team and community effort."
That statement too can describe Thomson High baseball. Come out to a game starting today and make yourself a part of that effort. This year's team still has a lot to look forward to and would appreciate your joining in.