Terry Holder was in familiar territory this past weekend. The Thomson High School baseball coach had his team in the state playoffs, a place where he had won a combined eight state championships at two different schools.
In the process of building a winning program during his first year at Thomson, his team achieved its goal of making the playoffs. But in the opening round best-of-three series, the fourth seeded Bulldogs couldn't advance, falling to top seeded Spalding County two games to one.
Despite the early exit, Coach Holder said he was proud of the team's effort throughout the season.
"There was so many times this year they could have just rolled over and played dead and just chalked it up to inexperience or this, that and the other. But they didn't do that," he said. "They really played hard, and we had some exciting moments."
In the opening game on Friday, the Bulldogs got a strong performance on the mound from four separate pitchers, but it wasn't enough. Thomson lost 3-8.
In the second game of the doubleheader Friday, Thomson found its bats and came away with a 13-9 win to extend the series to the full three games.
"We had one of the best innings we've had all year and got ahead of them and was able to maintain the lead," Coach Holder said.
During their third game in two days, the Bulldogs struggled to find a solid performer on the mound. After using most of the pitchers in games one and two, Thomson's defense couldn't hold Spalding County down, and the Bulldogs fell 6-17.
"Saturday we just tried to piece things together with our pitching," Coach Holder said. "...Things just kind of fell apart on us in the sixth inning."
Performing well at the plate during the weekend were Will Anderson and Austin Phillips. Also, Coach Holder said before Aaron McCorkle's injury in the series, he was swinging the bat well.
Overall, the development the team has undergone since last summer is something the coaching staff is glad to see. They hope that improvement will continue so that the team - which is only losing two seniors - will have an even better run next season.
"You've got to take your hat off to them. They've come a long way, and anybody that doesn't recognize that is not a baseball fan," Coach Holder said.