Entering his first full season at the helm of the Social Circle baseball program, Kevin Dawkins knew he was likely facing an uphill battle.
He hasn’t been disappointed, either in the team’s slow start or the progress he feels it’s made.
“We’re very young,” said Dawkins, whose roster includes just one senior and four juniors. “So we’re just taking what we learn from our losses and building on it.”
The Redskins were 2-6 heading into this week as they begin their Region 8-A public schedule at home against Lake Oconee Academy. The two will play again on Wednesday (away) and Friday (home).
The Redskins will play all their other region opponents three times in the same week, a setup voted on by region coaches before the season.
For Social Circle, which is facing its biggest struggles on the mound, it’ll be a challenge finding three pitchers each week for all-important league games.
Through their first eight games, the Redskins have allowed an average of 10 runs a game. Dawkins says a tough non-region schedule has, in part, affected the high scores.
But he hopes facing tougher competition early will pay off later.
Junior Jason Ball has emerged as the likely ace of the pitching staff. A third-year player in the program, he’s earned most of the innings so far. In last year’s abbreviated season, he went 0-1 with a couple of saves.
The other potential starter is sophomore Tyler Lemaster.
Most promising is a pair of sophomore lefties — Branden Mitchells and Will Atha — who will probably work mostly in relief.
“Not a whole lot of teams have a pair of lefties like that,” Dawkins said.
At the plate, Masters has been solid at leadoff.
“He’s been great for us so far getting on base three or four times a game,” Dawkins said.
Other players who’ve looked promising with the bat include sophomore Mitchell McCullough and freshman Mason Hill, who’s hitting cleanup.
Dawkins arrived at Social Circle last year after serving as baseball manager at Rockdale County for three seasons.
After a slow start, his inaugural Redskins squad appeared to turn a corner with a sweep of Union County. But a day later, the season was canceled due to the pandemic.
“It was disappointing,” Dawkins said of the shutdown. “But I look at last year as a get-to-know-you year. Now that we’ve all been together a while, I think we’ve learned to trust each other and know what to expect.”