COCHRAN, Ga. — From the preseason to the postseason, the Social Circle Redskins had aspirations to compete for and hopefully win a state championship. Those hopes were dashed by the Bleckley County Royals on Wednesday.
Social Circle lost game one 6-3 and game two — a contest that required two extra innings — ended with Bleckley County winning 6-4.
The final blow to the Redskins’ title dream came via Eli Mullis’ bat in the top of the ninth. Mullis drilled a two-run homer over the right field fence, which turned out to be the game winner.
Even though the season didn’t end like the Redskins wanted, head coach Kevin Dawkins still categorized the 2023 campaign as a triumphant one.
“25 wins and making it to another Elite Eight…it’s successful,” Dawkins said. “I told those guys, ‘Don’t hang your heads. You went 25-10 on the season. We met our goal of winning 21 regular season games. We achieved a lot of other goals. Anytime you can win 20-plus games in a season, you’re successful.”
Social Circle finished at 25-10 overall and were region runners up in Region 5A-Division I. Now, the program will graduate 10 seniors later this month.
After the conclusion of Wednesday’s matchup, Dawkins went around and hugged each senior as they walked off the field for the final time.
This senior group closed out their careers with a 72-46 mark, which places them as the winningest class in program history. On top of that, their freshman seasons were shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic where they only played 10 games.
In each of the past two seasons, the Redskins finished as region runners up, too.
These players also have Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight appearances under their belt. Not to mention last year’s advancement to the program’s first ever Final Four appearance.
High profile athletes like Mason Moore, Logan Cross and Mitchell McCullough were among the seniors.
Dawkins, who became head coach the seniors’ freshman season, sang this senior group’s praise post game.
“This group of seniors mean a lot to me,” Dawkins said. “Everything I’ve experienced in my coaching career since I’ve been here, they’ve been right there with me. They bought into everything that we asked them to do. They might not have always agreed with it, but they said, ‘Yes, sir’ and kept pushing. They have established what it means to be a Social Circle baseball player.”
Not only have each of the 10 seniors accomplished a lot, but Dawkins believes the upcoming classes can take a lot from their example.
“They can learn to just show up every day, being present, demanding the most out of each other and not being comfortable with complacency,” Dawkins said. “This senior class, from day one, showed up and demanded the best out of one another. These underclassmen coming up can follow from that example.”
In this year’s postseason, Social Circle swept St. Francis out of Region 6A-Division I at home on April 28. Less than a week later on May 6, the Redskins traveled to Elbert County High School to knock off the No. 1 seeded Blue Devils 8-7and 10-0 in games one and two, respectively.
Key contributors to this year’s run will be expected to return as well.
Juniors Luke Smith — who threw a 12-strikeout, no hitter at Elbert County — Landon Harpe and Landon Davis will be back. Plus, sophomores Caden Richardson and Luke Cross will be crucial for the future of Social Circle baseball.
With that, Dawkins did not hesitate about his projection of this program over the foreseeable future.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we’ll be back next year,” Dawkins said. “That’s the expectation. There isn’t going to be a down year. Those underclassmen are going to step up and we’re going to be right back in the thick of things next year.”