If you want a glimpse at the nature of high school baseball in Region 1-4A’s Subregion A this season, look no further than the Shaw Raiders’ last five games.
The Raiders, who won eight games in 2016, notched their eighth win of the season March 23 with a 4-1 win over Columbus for their first win over the Blue Devils in at least nine seasons. Shaw didn’t slow down from there, following that win with a 14-2 shellacking of Americus-Sumter the next day.
The next two games, however, were more of a challenge for Shaw. The Raiders outlasted Carver 4-3 on March 28 before losing to Hardaway 13-3 two days later.
As if the string of ups and downs wasn’t unpredictable enough, the Raiders put the Hardaway loss behind them in a big way Friday, beating legendary coach Bobby Howard’s Central Red Devils 6-3.
For those who haven’t been following, welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to life in Region 1-4A.
The 2017 baseball season has been a series of peaks and valleys for several Columbus-area teams, and it’s reflected in their records. Through Friday’s games, four local teams — Northside, Columbus, Shaw and Hardaway — are within a game of each other as far as region record is concerned. These teams reside within the same subregion, making it impossible to gauge besides looking in on a daily basis.
As it turns out, Shaw isn’t alone in witnessing so many highs and lows in such a short span of time.
Northside, the defending region champion, outscored Carver and Westover 26-2 in a pair of victories then outlasted Hardaway 5-4 on March 28. Two days later, Columbus handed the Patriots a 15-5 loss. That 10-run victory for Columbus was sandwiched between the loss to Shaw, a 5-2 defeat to non-division opponent Marist and a 2-0 loss to Cairo.
Hardaway, meanwhile, may have the hottest streak of all four. The Hawks lost to Harris County 11-1 on March 22 but responded with a 10-0 victory against Carver the following day. Since then, the Hawks fell by one run to Northside, topped Shaw by 10 and beat Americus-Sumter 20-0 in three innings.
The push through the regular season for all four teams has mimicked the opening stretch of a horse race. Different teams have surged ahead, only to hold their spots momentarily until being shuffled slightly backward.
The good news for each team is at this point they’re all neck and neck. Northside holds a one-game advantage over the other three, but with one game remaining against each of them, that’s anything but safe. The bad news concerns all four as well: If you’re chasing the top spot in the subregion, you cannot afford another sporadic stretch to close out.
The unpredictable play of all four of these teams benefits the fans as the regular season draws to a close. Because of the standings and the remaining head-to-head games, we’re set up for a photo finish that could include all four teams or may turn out to feature only two.
If the last week or so of games has taught us anything, there’s no such thing as a sure bet on how the subregion shakes out this go around.