On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the GMC Prep baseball team dominated a doubleheader against then-region foe Lincoln County, winning 15-0 and 12-3.
The Bulldogs were sporting a 9-2 record and had two senior studs leading the team.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to an abrupt halt.
“It was one of those things where you thought something may happen, but you never knew it would happen that quick,” GMC Prep head baseball coach Rusty Courson said. “That was really tough. There really was no closure to last year.”
Schools went virtual, and so the 2020 spring sports season ended with no championships decided. Now the spring session is soon to get underway again as the first day for Georgia High School Association baseball competition is set for Monday. Courson’s ‘Dogs are looking to pick up where they left off, and are in decent position to do so given the program’s returning talent and new region.
The senior and sophomore-heavy roster is led by the senior trio of Cody Beckham, Carson Knowles and Mason Seymour, all players who have contributed throughout their varsity careers. All are good with the bat, and Beckham is expected to be one of the team’s top arms. Seymour will hold down second base while Knowles is making the switch from first to third due to the Bulldogs’ defensive needs. Those guys bring more to the plate (no pun intended) than just experience and talent. Since they all joined the varsity at the same time as their fourth-year head coach, they often know what he’s thinking before he says it.
“Leadership-wise, it’s awesome because they know how I am and my expectations of them,” said Courson. “They know the routine no matter the situation, so they’re basically assistant coaches.”
Joining those veteran seniors as GMC Prep’s top threats with the bat are junior Travion Woods and JJ Hines, both of whom have been knocking the cover off the baseball this preseason.
The Bulldogs’ question marks mostly lie in the field. Courson said he feels good about his top three pitchers in Beckham along with sophomores Cayden Avant and Christian Black, who will get the ball on opening day. When not on the mound, Avant is taking over the shortstop reins previously held by one of last year’s seniors. Beyond those three names, the coaching staff has been working to develop more throwers because having a good stable of arms is a must come playoff time.
Defensive chemistry has been tough to develop during preseason practices. Courson estimates that he’s had fewer than five practices with his whole team due to players being involved in other ongoing activities at the school. GMC also missed out on its lone scrimmage opportunity this past week, so the head coach hopes defensive synergy will grow as the guys spend more time on the diamond together.
GHSA regions were shaken up with realignment and reclassification, making the competition pool different from last year for GMC Prep. Region 7-A Public experienced more subtraction than addition though since the Class A private schools were moved into their own regions. Crawford County, a newcomer, and ACE Charter of Macon, an old region foe, are expected to be the Bulldogs’ toughest competition for the region crown. Glascock County, Wilkinson County, Twiggs County and Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics (GSIC) will also vie for the region title and state playoff berths. The first region game for GMC is scheduled for March 2 against Wilkinson.
The Bulldogs’ regular season was originally scheduled to get underway with a crosstown matchup against Baldwin High School Tuesday, but it has been moved to Thursday and will be played at GMC. The Braves won the last meeting between the two local schools 13-6 two years ago. The Bulldogs now open their season Wednesday at home against Central High School of Macon.