COVINGTON, Ga. — Ample baseball talent abounds in the Newton County area for the 2018 season, evidenced by the fact that two of the four area teams (Eastside and Social Circle) made fairly deep runs into the postseason, while Newton missed the playoffs by one game.
Even Alcovy, though in full rebuild mode now with new head coach Jimmy Hughes, showed off a young, talented core that could provide a sure foundation for future success.
Particularly stout this season was the area’s compliment of pitching talent, with several hurlers who could make a very strong case for Pitcher of the Year and first team All-Covington News pitching honors.
And of course there’s the tremendous job Eastside coach Brandon Crumbley did in his “audition” season as the Eagles’ interim coach. He is, unquestionably, our Coach of the Year, while Eastside’s Ryan Shirley and Social Circle’s Chandler Ball get the nod for Player and Pitcher of the Year honors.
Alcovy freshman Ryan Spikes had a stellar introductory season to his varsity baseball career, and thus earned Freshman of the Year notoriety.
Check out our full 2018 All-Covington News Baseball Team, and watch for full coverage, including feature stories and Q&A interviews with our honorees, both online and in Sunday’s print edition.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Brandon Crumbley, Eastside — Crumbley carried the Eagles to a 26-6 record, a Region 4-AAAA runner-up finish and a Sweet 16 appearance in the Class AAAA state playoffs, while guiding them to a 16-game midseason winning streak as he carried an interim tag. He was recently named Eastside’s full time coach.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Ryan Shirley, Eastside — The senior was a do-it-all performer for the Eagles. Behind the plate, the third baseman hit .437 with 31 hits and a .579 on-base percentage. On the mound he posted a 6-0 record with a 1.94 ERA and 54 strikeouts. Shirley also took home Region 4-AAAA Player of the Year honors.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR:
Chandler Ball, Social Circle — A case could be made for Ball’s teammate Mason Harris, but Ball’s 1.30 ERA and 83 strikeouts over 57 innings pitched showed the junior’s penchant for overpowering opposing batters arguably better than any other hurler in the area.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR:
Ryan Spikes, Alcovy — Given his youth, Spikes’ production is nothing short of fantastic. He batted .324 with seven doubles, a home run, a triple and 16 RBI while posting three wins and 45 strikeouts on the mound in 32 innings pitched.
All-Covington News 2018 First Team
Mason Harris, Social Circle — Harris posted a 9-0 record with a 1.54 ERA in 65 innings pitched as a part of a deep Redskins bullpen that helped them to a Region 8-AA runner-up and Class AA Elite Eight finish.
Brayden Harper, Eastside — Harper was also a candidate for Pitcher of the Year with his 4-1 record, 37 strikeouts through 32 innings pitched and a 1.289 ERA.
Riley Ralston, Eastside — Ralston posted a 5-2 mark on the hill with 34 strikeouts and a 1.36 ERA while joining Harper and Shirley to make up a solid Eagles pitching staff.
Jamal Boykin, Newton — Boykin led a Rams team that almost made the Class AAAAAAA Playoffs in hitting with a .379 batting average, 12 RBI and a home run. He also led Newton with 36 stolen bases in 38 attempts.
Cole Green, Eastside — Shortstop who batted .385 with 30 hits and 30 RBI.
Christian Murray, Newton — Fourth on the team in RBIs with 15 while batting .295 with a homer.
Noah Cook, Eastside — Sophomore who showed a big bat with a .352 batting average, 32 hits and 38 runs scored.
Khalil Wilcox, Newton — Strong junior season leading Newton with three homers and five triples. Third on the team in RBIs with 16. Posted a .338 batting average, second only to Boykin among players with 10 or more at-bats. Wilcox also stole 18 bases and boasted a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Aron Cox, Eastside — Knocked 20 hits with a .351 batting average.
Chandler Hicks, Alcovy — Solid season for the versatile sophomore who has been considered one of the top catchers in the nation among travel ball circles.
Parker Kauffman, Newton — Kauffman hit .271 with 14 RBI. He posted a .167 caught stealing percentage and was a consummate leader for the Rams.
Tanner Feeney, Eastside — Feeney had the arduous task of filling in for Austin Holloway, and did so admirably. A two-sport standout, Feeney signed with LaGrange College last month he signed for both baseball and football.
Walker Edmondson, Alcovy - Edmondson provided solid senior leadership for an Alcovy squad that struggled despite showing promise, keeping some games close against postseason caliber opposition. He batted .309 with eight doubles and, 10 RBI.
Jackson Will, Social Circle — Will has found himself playing catcher, third and second base, right field and at pitcher at some point this season. To add to his versatility, he hit .360 with a .460 on base percentage.
Colby Shivers, Eastside — Sophomore is primed for a more-than-solid next two years at Eastside after showing much promise batting .284 with 23 hits, seven doubles and 27 RBI.
All-Covington News Honorable Mention
Corey Hays, Pitcher, Social Circle; Jacob Redman, Pitcher, Newton; Blake Wilder, Newton; Christian Davis, left-handed pitcher; Davis Smith, pitcher, Social Circle; Israel Dixon, UTL, Newton; CJ Thomas, UTL/P, Newton; John Robert McGowan, Eastside; Cameron Anderson, Alcovy.