Opening day for the 2013 DeKalb County baseball season is Feb. 16 and some of DeKalb’s top baseball programs have high expectations of having success in the postseason.
Last season, four teams from DeKalb — Arabia Mountain, Chamblee, Dunwoody and Redan — reached the playoffs and all lost in the first round. The last DeKalb team to win a baseball state championship was Dunwoody in 2007. Dunwoody ended a 33-year drought of baseball state championships for DeKalb.
At the annual DeKalb County baseball media day held Jan. 24 at Tucker High School, a few coaches, including Redan head coach Marvin Pruitt, said they believe their teams can go pretty far this season because of the number of players returning from last season.
“We have practically everybody coming back from last year’s team,” Pruitt said.
Redan, which finished 21-8 last season, lost to East Paulding 2-1 in a three game series in the first round of playoffs. Pruitt said he expects his team to play better this year with all the experienced players coming back, including senior pitcher/infielder Wesley Jones. Jones finished fifth in the county last season in batting average at .516, second in RBI with 29 and in the top 5 in doubles with eight. He was 3-1 on the mound in 34 2/3 innings with a 1.41 earned run average, 42 strikeouts and 19 walks.
“We have all of the pitching coming back, so I think we’re going to be in good shape,” Pruitt said.
Columbia also has all of its players returning for the 2013 season. The 2012 team, which was predominantly freshmen and sophomores, finished the season 15-10-1. Now that the team is a year older, head coach Steve Dennis said the expectations are much higher.
“They’re a year older and a year smarter and hopefully they’ll play better,” Dennis said. “We have a very promising year coming up and we’re excited about it.”
Dunwoody will have a young team this year after losing nine seniors last year. Despite the youth, head coach Chan English still expects his team to compete.
“We’re going to try to be one of the top four teams in the [6-AAAAA] region,” he said. “This year’s team has a lot more pitching.”
St. Pius X also lost in the first round of playoffs last season, but head coach J.T. Gilbert hopes his team can make it further this year.
“Every year we set the goal to make the playoffs,” he said. “The state of Georgia has some great baseball teams and our region [6-AAA] is going to be tough. We want to make the playoffs and hopefully make some noise when we get there.”
It has been three years since Lakeside’s last playoff appearance, but head coach Bill Newsome believes this year’s team has a chance to get back to the postseason.
“Our first goal is to get back to the state tournament and we think realistically we have a chance to compete for the [6-AAAAA] region title,” he said. “We have a strong senior class, a lot of depth, a lot of good arms, and we hope to [make the playoffs].”