COVINGTON, Ga. — After last year’s historic season, Eastside baseball head coach Brandon Crumbley is “chomping at the bit” for the spring.
Last year the Eagles (26-6, 15-3 in Region 4-AAAA) opened eyes with a mid-season 16-game winning streak, and a trip to the Class AAAA Sweet 16 where they fell short in two games. They did this even while Crumbley was coaching with the uncertainty of wearing an interim tag.
Shortly after Eastside’s impressive 2018 run, Crumbley shed the interim label to take on head coaching duties full time. And though the Eagles lost a slew of talented seniors — most notably The Covington News and Region Player of the Year Ryan Shirley — Crumbley is pumped about the incoming crop of players ready to make an impact.
“We’ve got some young guys that are going to compete,” Crumbley said. “We’re excited. We’re going to be young this year, but it’s going to be good for the years down the road.”
The excitement surrounding the baseball team goes well beyond the diamond. It is ingrained in the culture built into the Eastside athletic department. Crumbley credits football coach Troy Hoff for his mantra “We Bleed Green” that has united the entire athletic program.
Proof of that unity was on display during the last week before winter break when the baseball and soccer teams conducted a joint conditioning camp.
“We’re all working for the same thing,” Crumbley said. “We’re all trying to win region and make a deep playoff run. So we just joined forces and tried to push the kids. They see [each other] in the halls all day, but they’ve never worked out with them. So it was good and we enjoyed it.
“The kids really enjoyed it, so it’s something we’re going to probably keep in there and look forward to it every year.”
Conditioning has been the focus of the offseason for Crumbley’s squad, opting to spend the fall in the weight room and running rather than playing in a fall league. Because of that offseason conditioning, the Eagles are “ahead of schedule” physically, allowing them to have more time to focus on baseball during the winter and spring.
Crumbley’s mantra throughout the sometimes mundane moments of conditioning: “Conditioning pays off in May.”
“That’s our goal, to play late into May and make a deep run,” he said. “It’s going to pay off when the other team is struggling and we are ready to go.”
As much as he values conditioning, Crumbley admits he’s itching to get back to baseball next week.
With tryouts beginning next Monday, the first official day of practice on January 19 and a regular season opener at Walnut Grove exactly a month away (February 13), the Eagles will soon begin their quest to exceed the Sweet 16 mark set last year.
“I’m excited and the coaching staff is excited,” he said. “Were ready to get after it.” Then, with a chuckle, he added: “I’m ready for Monday.