Mark Ethridge has revived Jefferson County's baseball program the past two seasons, and he is beginning to see the benefits.
One of his top pitchers, Craig Norton, has signed to play with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), a junior college in Tifton, Ga.
Norton, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, is a three-year letterman and has a 5-3 record this season with 1.82 earned run average. He's also one of the area's top hitters, hitting .373 with seven homers.
"I've had Craig since he was a ninth grader, and I coached him on the JV team," said Ethridge, whose team could make its second straight appearance in the Region 3-AA tournament later this month.
"I moved up with him," Norton said. "I'm very proud of him. I think he's worked hard to get better as the years have gone by. That's the type of kid he is. He's worked hard at it."
SEASON NEARING END:
With one week left in the regular season, several teams find themselves scrambling for positions for next week's region baseball tourneys.
In the Region 2-AAAA East subregion, both Evans and Lakeside have clinched berths in the Region 2-AAAA tourney. Evans needs to beat Butler on Monday in a makeup game to secure the subregion title.
In the Region 3-AAA (A) subregion, Burke County needs to beat either Cross Creek or Richmond Academy this week to clinch the title. Also, barring a Richmond Academy upset of Westside and a Thomson upset of Statesboro, Friday's game between Statesboro and Westside in Statesboro will decide the subregion's No. 2 seed.
Greenbrier has clinched the Region 3-AAA (B) subregion title and Dublin likely will clinch the No. 2 seed early this week.
In the Region 2-AA North subregion, Screven County can clinch a spot in the Region 2-AA tournament with a victory over Toombs County on Tuesday. Screven can clinch the title either by winning its final two subregion games or if either Richmond Hill or South Effingham lose a subregion game.
Harlem can clinch the Region 3-AA North subregion with a victory over Hancock Central Tuesday.
Swainsboro's battle with Jefferson County in the Region 3-AA South subregion on Tuesday looms large. A Swainsboro victory gives the Tigers the subregion crown; a Jefferson County victory will tie the two teams atop the standings.
In the Region 7-A West subregion, Washington-Wilkes will clinch the subregion with a victory over Lincoln County on Monday.