Even though the Thomson High School Bulldogs didn't make it back into the Class AAA baseball playoffs this year, the skipper believes the program is on the upswing.
"We just came up a little short this year as far as making it back into the state playoffs," said legendary Georgia prep baseball Coach Terry Holder, who just completed his second season at Thomson. "I thought we were a better baseball team than we were last year. But like I said, we just came up a little short."
Even though the Bulldogs played well during spurts of the season, they didn't fair so well down the stretch. The team lost its last three games - falling to Richmond Academy, Washington County and Benedictine Military School in what was a must-win region playoff game.
If Thomson had won against Benedictine, it would have propelled them back into the Class AAA state baseball playoffs like last year. For the Bulldogs, such wasn't to be.
So ends another season on the diamond. Somewhat of a disappointing one, yet one that had some significant highlights in terms of the overall baseball program's success at Thomson High School, Coach Holder said in an interview last week.
"We had several highlights during the season that I thought shows that our baseball program is moving in the right direction," Coach Holder said.
Four of the biggest highlights during this past baseball season for the Bulldogs was having beaten four "pretty good" teams - three of those teams being from neighboring Columbia County - recognized as a hot-bed for prep baseball talent in the state.
"We managed to beat Evans in a scrimmage game before the start of the season," Coach Holder said. "Then we beat Lakeside twice, once at our field and again down there in Evans. And we split with Harlem on the year, which had a very fine team."
Harlem, who finished runners-up for the Region 3-AAA championship behind South Effingham County, was shut out 2-0 by Thomson in the only regular season region loss that Harlem suffered.
"Winning those games were definitely our biggest highlights this season as a team," added Coach Holder, who has won eight baseball championships during his many years of coaching. He guided the Evans High Knights to five such Class AAAA titles and three at Greenbrier High School, where his son, Rodney, is now the head coach.
This year's Thomson team will lose seven seniors. They include: Evan Howard, left fielder; Aaron McCorkle, catcher; Drew Usry, shortstop and relief pitcher; Phillip Bonner, third baseman; Anthony Erwin, center fielder; R.C. Smith, first baseman; and Tyler Gowan, pinch runner.
Coach Holder praised the seniors for their efforts in helping Thomson to another successful season.
"We're going to miss all of these seniors," he said. "We appreciate what they did to help in our success this season."
The Bulldogs finished the season with an overall record of 15-8 and 7-5 in sub-region play.