COVINGTON, Ga. — As far as head coach Kevin Boeckman is concerned, the Peachtree Academy baseball team hasn’t missed a beat in execution. In fact, he labeled the 2023 Panthers’ squad as “probably the more talented team that we’ve had the last couple of years.”
There is one main component missing, though — leadership.
For Boeckman, that is something he hopes the Panthers locate before the playoffs begin shortly.
“I know all of the players have a desire to win, but they show it in a different way than any team I’ve ever had,” Boeckman said. “They’re more quiet about it. It’s been more difficult trying to figure out the chemistry and trying to figure out who is who this year.”
Nevertheless, Peachtree Academy boasts a 10-3 record and, with March 30’s win over region and in-county rival Covington Academy, the Panthers locked up first place for the state playoffs, allowing them to play host for the first round.
Winning such a game brought about great emotions for Boeckman as well.
“We pretty much locked up first place in our region with the big win,” Boeckman said. “So, it made it even sweeter.”
This is following a season where Peachtree Academy won the state championship, too.
A few key returners have been prevalent to the Panthers’ hopes for a state title repeat.
For instance, Dylan Whitfield and Connor Boeckman are back after earning All-State honors a season ago. Plus, Cavin Richardson has stepped up on the mound throughout the year.
Though the experience and high level of play has been there all season, there’s something simple Boeckman wants to see his team improve on.
“They have to make routine plays,” Boeckman said. “We’re making the difficult plays, it’s just routine plays. If they can make them consistently, honestly we would be undefeated now.”
Executing “routine plays” and having a few players step up to lead the team are the two biggest areas Boeckman harps on for progression. He believes, if his athletes can work toward refining those aspects of the team, the Panthers can be a dangerous team come postseason time.
“We have a good record and we’ve won some games, but they still haven’t come together yet where you’re like, ‘Wow,’” Boeckman said. “We’ve got so much more potential on this team, we just haven’t been able to pull it out of them quite yet.”
Despite his concerns, Boeckman has high hopes for the Panthers to defend their state title. With the No. 1 seed solidified and a few more games on their regular season schedule to continue progressing, Boeckman recognizes it’s up to the players to step up to the challenge.
It’s a challenge Boeckman is eager to see his players accept.
“We have the team to be able to win another state title, but can we make those routine plays and can they get together and become a close knit group?’” Boeckman said. “It’s really on them to take what we’ve been preaching all the time and apply it.”