All season long, baseball’s Region 1-AAAAA has been ever-changing, shifting on a weekly and even daily basis. Heading into the final week of the regular season, the top four playoff spots are still all up in the air.
Columbus High is the only team in the region that has clinched a playoff berth, but it could finish anywhere from first to fourth. Four teams in addition to the Blue Devils are still in playoff contention.
Here’s a look at all five teams fighting for playoff berths, the records and remaining games this week.
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Overall record: 15-5
Region record: 12-3
Remaining games: at Northside (5:30 p.m. Tuesday), vs. Hardaway (4:30 p.m. Wednesday), at Hardaway (4:30 p.m. Thursday).
You need to know: Despite a wild season off the field, the Blue Devils still have given themselves the inside track at a region championship. Former coach Bobby Howard resigned his position three games into the season, and there was some attrition with the roster as Knox Carter left the team.
But interim coach Chad Mathis, along with his staff, has led the program to a 12-3 region record with three games left to play. Columbus will play at Northside on Tuesday, at home versus Hardaway on Wednesday and at Hardaway in the finale this week.
Because Harris County won 2 of 3 against the Blue Devils, the Tigers own the tiebreaker. Columbus can clinch the region with three wins this week, however.
Harris County High
Overall record: 15-6
Region record: 9-4
Remaining games: vs. Hardaway (5:30 p.m. Monday), vs. Carver (DH on Tuesday), at LaGrange (5:30 p.m. Wednesday), vs. LaGrange (5:30 p.m. Thursday).
You need to know: Harris County trails Columbus by one game, but is still very much in the mix for a region title. Should it win all of its games this week, it would require one loss from the Blue Devils to take the top spot into the playoffs.
Harris County defeated Columbus twice this year and owns the tiebreaker between the two.
The Tigers biggest struggle this season has been putting multiple strong performances together. Its losses have come almost entirely following an important win.
It will need four big wins this week, two of which are against playoff contenders, to have a shot at the region title.
Overall record: 15-7
Region record: 9-5
Remaining games: at Harris County (5:30 p.m. Monday), vs. LaGrange (4:30 p.m. Tuesday), at Columbus (4:30 p.m. Wednesday), vs. Columbus (4:30 p.m. Thursday).
You need to know: The season has been filled with ups and downs for Hardaway, which won its first eight games of the season, but has gone just 7-7 since.
The top three hitters in the Hawks batting order — Sam Anthony, Jalin Thomas and Blake Rupp — missed three straight games in the middle of region play. They were out for two games against Shaw and one against Northside, but Hardaway survived the stretch with a 2-1 record.
Most recently, pitcher Tony Locey decided to leave the program for undisclosed reasons, leaving Hardaway thin in its pitching rotation.
Still, the Hawks are just two games back of Columbus in the loss column and have an outside chance of contending for a region title. To do so, it would more than likely need to sweep its final four games and hope to get some help from the Blue Devils and Tigers.
Overall record: 10-11
Region record: 8-6
Remaining games: at Carver (5 p.m. Monday), at Hardaway (4:30 p.m. Tuesday), vs. Harris County (5:30 p.m. Wednesday), at Harris County (5:30 p.m. Thursday).
You need to know: The Grangers have been up and down all year, but have proven themselves able to contend with each of the best teams in the region.
They have games at Carver and Hardaway this week, along with a game at home and one at Harris County on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. It is currently in the No. 4 spot in the region, but will be in a fight to hold off Northside.
Overall record: 12-10
Region record: 8-8
Remaining games: vs. Shaw (5:30 p.m. Monday), vs. Columbus (5:30 p.m. Tuesday).
You need to know: Before the season, Northside wanted to prove that it was not only a playoff-caliber team, but could contend for a region championship.
Just two weeks ago, the Patriots were in second place in the region behind Columbus and in position to do just that. It has lost three straight, however — two to Harris County and one to Columbus — and has fallen into fifth place in the region.
At 8-8, it has no room for error. And games against Shaw and Columbus left on the schedule will prove difficult hurdles to clear. Should Northside clear them, they will need LaGrange to lose at least three times in their final four games. The Grangers own the tiebreaker between the two teams.