I had several things bouncing around inside the old coconut that I could write about this week. There's the iconic John Madden retiring from the NFL broadcast booth. We will surely miss his passion for pro football. There's the University of Georgia gymnastics team winning their fifth straight national championship. That's awesome no matter what league you are in. Then there is Saturday's NFL draft. Chances are good that Thomson's Jasper Brinkley will be selected perhaps as early as the second round.
As I rolled these topics around in my mind, something kept tugging at me. The tug was not inside my thick skull but instead on my heartstrings. I kept going back to something that I went to bed thinking about on two straight nights and woke up thinking about for two mornings. It is something that I already wrote about last week, but to heck with my rule of trying not to repeat myself.
The Thomson High School versus West Laurens baseball game last Saturday was a doozy. I told you that it would be. If you missed it, you should really be kicking yourself. Even if you don't like baseball, there was something special about what occurred on that diamond that even a novice to the sport would have felt if you know anything about teenagers.
I'm not talking about Abram Cartledge and Phillip Anderson's pitching and homeruns. I'm not talking about Cody Ewest's and Dontavious Brown's brilliant defense. I'm not talking about the specific details, names and numbers of the game in general. You will read elsewhere on this page that Thomson won 4-2 and how it happened.
I'm talking about a group of young men being mentally prepared for a game better than they ever have in their life. I'm talking about a team that took the proverbial "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" and stamped it on each other's foreheads. I'm talking about a squad that kept their poise and executed the game of baseball under pressure like, well, again, like they never have before.
At stake was the chance for Thomson to move into a first place tie in Region 3-AAA. A win would do it, a loss would mean watching West Laurens celebrate a region championship on the Dogs' home field. As we know now, that wasn't going to happen.
If a baseball region championship trophy exists anywhere in a trophy case in Thomson High School it has surely gathered much dust. This Thomson team seems to be determined to collect one. Frankly, when this opportunity has presented itself in the recent past, the Bulldogs have found a way not to pull it off. Surely not for a lack of trying, but maybe for a lack of steely resolve and mental toughness has this not occurred.
Maybe the teams just haven't been good enough you might say. Maybe so. Maybe the competition has been too tough and not so tough this year some may say. Maybe so. The bottom line in the right here and now however is this. The 2009 Thomson High baseball team currently controls its own destiny as it seeks a region championship. When was the last time that anyone has been able to say that with only one week left in the season?
Saturday's game presented this young team another golden chance to trip and fall smack on its' face. They fell behind 2-0 early and trailed for most of the game. They did something that good teams do. They just kept playing. They ignored the scoreboard and kept chopping wood. They could have said, "here we go again," but they did not.
No, the West Laurens Raiders were not the modern day version of the 1927 Yankees' Murderer's Row. That is not my point. So many times Thomson's biggest enemy has not been the team in the other dugout, but the team in their own dugout. That was not the case this time. The big moment arrived and the Diamond Dogs pulled together and made it a bigger moment.
The challenge now is for the team to bottle what they had last Saturday and finish the run. They will have to beat Burke County twice and Baldwin once to do it. That first encounter is in Waynesboro tomorrow. Baldwin will be in town for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday and the return matchup with Burke will be next Thursday at home. Non-region home games with Lakeside and Aquinas will be squeezed in on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Come out to the old ballyard each evening at 6 p.m. and help this team over the hump. You'll be glad you did.