Former Northgate baseball player James Poropatic will lead the LaGrange College squad into the NCAA Division III tournament starting today in Holly Springs, North Carolina.
The senior was one of LaGrange College’s top offensive weapons in a season where the Panthers finished 28-16 overall and 10-8 in the USA South Conference.
Poropatic lead the team with 177 at-bats and finished with a .322 batting average. He finished with 57 hits, including six doubles, four triples, homers and 42 RBIs.
Former Heritage baseball player Jake Smith is also a freshman at LaGrange.
LaGrange is one of 58 teams playing in eight regionals Randolph-Macon (Va.), The College of New Jersey, Denison (Ohio), Christopher Newport (Va.), and Alvernia (Pa.) join the Panthers in North Carolina.
The Panthers are making their second straight NCAA appearance after winning the USA South Tournament Championship for the second straight year.
It will be the Panthers' third overall appearance in the national tournament.
LaGrange is the only team in the region that won its conference tournament championship with the other five teams receiving at-large bids.
All eight region winners will qualify for the pool play double-elimination championship at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin, Friday-Tuesday/Wednesday, May 25-29/30, 2018 at the NCAA Division III World Series.
STEELE CLINCHES TRIP TO JUCO WORLD SERIES BEFORE HEADING TO UWG
Former Newnan High ace Sawyer Steele has adapted into a top-notch closer while helping lead Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) Community into this year’s national tournament.
Steele closed out a 10-5 victory on Monday over Wallace-Hanceville that clinched this year’s championship in the Alabama Community College Conference. With the win, CVCC advances to the upcoming NJCAA World Series in Colorado.
The sophomore, who will return closer to home next season after signing with West Georgia, had posted four saves this season to go with a 2.95 ERA in 14 appearances. Steele had 21 strikeouts in 18.1 innings heading into the postseason.
Local players at the junior college level in Alabama this year also included Jacob Snellgrove (Newnan, Coastal Alabama), Mason Frady (East Coweta, Central Alabama) and Cody Rodgers (East Coweta, Central Alabama).
Former East Coweta left-handed pitcher Mason Meyer, who originally signed with Central Alabama, announced he would be transfering to play at Liberty University.
BARNES CLOSES OUT SEASON AT WEST GEORGIA
Sawyer Steele will become the second Newnan High graduate on next year’s baseball roster at West Georgia while expecting to join former teammate Brady Barnes.
The sophomore outfielder batted .325 over 19 starts this season for the Wolves, finishing with 13 walks and 16 RBIs.
West Georgia went 32-18 this spring and reached the Gulf South Conference Tournament while losing only six seniors from the 2018 roster.
Former Cougar Sam Sowerbrower is also at the Division II level while a junior left-handed pitcher for Columbus State. The Cougars (40-12) signed current Newnan High standout outfielder Will Wilbanks to their most recent signing class.
ALLEN CLOSES OUT RECORD-SETTING JUNIOR YEAR AT LIMESTONE
Following a varsity career where he was among Northgate High’s leaders in homers, Chase Allen set new single season and career marks in the category before Limestone recently closed out its 2018 season.
The 6-1, 205-pound junior infielder was an All-Conference first team selection after connecting for 24 homers and 61 RBIs for the Division II school. He became just the third Limestone player since the school began play in DII baseball that earned NCBWA All-America honors as a sophomore.
Allen also set a new career home-run record at the school this year with a combined 45 over his first three collegiate seasons.
BURDEN, GROOVER NAMED ALL-ACADEMIC DURING SOLID SEASONS AT PIEDMONT
Another former Northgate High standout produced at the plate while leading Piedmont College’s offense this spring.
Junior outfielder Andrew Burden played in all 44 games this season for the Lions (30-14), posting a team-high .405 batting average with 13 doubles, three homers and 47 RBIs
The engineering and physics major also had 68 hits and 42 runs, both second on the team. This year’s highlights included a 4-for-4 effort against LaGrange with three runs and one RBI. Burden also had two doubles in a win.
Burden joined Newnan High graduate and former Cougars outfielder Justin Groover in earning First-Team All-Academic selections for the first time.
Groover, a recent accounting and finance graduate, finished the season with a .281 batting average and had 47 runs off 50 hits. The Newnan, Ga. native compiled 27 RBI and had a .393 slugging percentage.
Groover's top performance came against Birmingham-Southern as the senior went 3-for-3 with three runs and three RBI. He also had two stolen bases.
Also wrapping up his senior season locally at Piedmont along with Groover was former Northgate standout Buddy Green, who posted a 2.59 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Lions this spring. Green posted 27 strikeouts in 27 ⅓ innings with a 1-2 record.
This year’s roster at Piedmont also included freshman pitcher Calvin Boyd (East Coweta).
FRESHMEN JUMP RIGHT IN DURING COLLEGIATE DEBUTS
In just his freshman season at N.C. State, former East Coweta standout shortstop Devonte Brown has appeared in 24 games for the Wolfpack, currently 39-12 overall. Brown is batting .235 with a double and seven walks.
Indians teammate Coleman Wood has appeared in 10 games at Trevecca Nazarene in Tennessee, while posting a 2-3 record as a freshman left-handed pitcher.
LOCAL DUO CONNECTING AT PLATE FOR ANDREW
Former All-County selections Dahlton Cash (Newnan) and Matt Holloway (Trinity Christian) posted solid numbers at the plate this spring at Andrew College. Cash, a sophomore catcher/third baseman, batted .291 in 51 games, with three homers and 27 RBIs.
Holloway also hovered around .300, before closing out his collegiate debut as a freshman infielder with a .299 average in 49 games and finishing with 15 RBIs.
Other local freshmen on college rosters this spring include Anthony Marino (Newnan, Point University), Ethan Darrow (East Coweta, Gordon State), Trevor Gaddy (East Coweta, Berry), Michael Young (Trinity Christian, Shorter University), Matt Holloway (Trinity Christian, Andrew College), Nicholas Kempf (Northgate, Andrew College), Jake Elrod (Trinity Christian, Huntingdon), Dylan Thompson (Northgate, Huntingdon College) and Carson Ballew (East Coweta, West Georgia Tech).
Sophomores include Dahlton Cash (Newnan, Andrew College), Zach Swindell (Northgate, Gordon State), Thomas Leone (East Coweta, Chipola College), Jared McFall (Northgate, Huntingdon) and Reagan Thomas (East Coweta, West Georgia Tech).