Southeast High School Raiders

May 25, 2014

All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

Seth Pierce becomes the complete player

Things weren’t as pretty statistically in 2013 as Pierce went 6-5. Still, he had a 1.77 ERA and struck out 98 batters in 71 innings of work. It was enough to earn him another spot on the All-Area Team as the squad’s pitcher.

But this season was a totally different story for the Northwest junior.

He continues to be the area’s most dominant pitcher, but he added a much larger dimension to his game as a hitter.

On the mound, he finished with a 7-1 record and three saves in 13 appearances. He struck out 81 batters in 52 1/3 innings and finished with a 1.81 ERA. But he was equally as dangerous and effective at the plate this season. He finished with a .444 batting average — hitting .512 against Region 7-4A competition — and led the region champions in home runs (6) and RBIs (34).

“Just going from freshman year to my junior year, I really felt like I worked a lot more on my hitting in the offseason,” Pierce said. “I am trusting my hands and doing the little extra things. When I was going down to Atlanta on Sundays, I was working on my hitting, and during practice with my batting practice time, I just tried to make sure that I did all of the little things. I relied more on my pitching than I did on my hitting the first two years. But this year, I really concentrated on become more of a consistent hitter.”

For his efforts, Pierce is once again The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

He is joined on the All-Area Baseball Team by teammates Diego Peralta, Eddie Hernandez and Andy Whisenant; Christian Heritage’s Jake Stokes; Dalton’s Jake Roberts, Grant Sane, Cole Shelton and Jase Chastain; North Murray’s Aaron Granger; and Southeast Whitfield’s Blake Foster and Rhett Harper. The team is chosen by The Daily Citizen’s sports staff based on input and nominations from the area’s coaches.

Pierce is definitely a much more complete and well-rounded baseball player now. While his future — whether in college or in the professional ranks — looks to be on the mound, his presence in the middle of the order for the Bruins this year was felt by almost all of Northwest’s opponents.

“Basically, he just did a better job of making adjustments at the plate,” Northwest coach Todd Middleton said. “When they tried to go outside on him, he was going with the pitch. It is just maturity and he works as hard or harder than anyone. He has put on weight, and a lot of it is in his legs. He does a good job in the weight room and does a lot of extra work as well.”

Physically he is much different from the freshman with a big arm. He is thicker from the more intense weight training, and his pitching motion has changed to more of a three-quarter delivery. All of the work in the weight room has made him stronger and also helped him at the plate.

Pierce said he saw his sophomore year as a disappointment as he lost four games down the stretch and his contributions offensively were sporadic at best. That sophomore slump pushed him last summer with the East Cobb Yankees and during the fall to improve as a player.

“Last year, I felt like I wasn’t as focused as I was in my freshman year,” he said. “I worked a lot last summer to get my mechanics exactly where I needed to be. This year, I felt a lot more confident about everything. I have three full pitches that I always feel like I can throw for a strike, and I feel like I was making the right pitches at the right times. I was really confident in my defense, and they had my back.”

The Bruins repeated as the Region 7-4A champs, sweeping past Cedartown in the championship series. But they lost in the first round of the state playoffs at home to LaGrange. And just as he felt his sophomore season was a letdown and pushed him in the offseason, the unceremonious end to this past season will be the driving force as he heads toward his senior year.

“It was a little crazy, and we wanted to go a lot further than the first round,” Pierce said of the surprising first-round exit. “We had a big win in the region championship game going down to Cedartown and taking two games from them. I feel like we weren’t as focused as we should have been in the first round against LaGrange. We just didn’t make the plays defensively as we did the entire year. We didn’t make the pitches or get the hits that it seemed like we always got through the year. I was still proud of this team. We had two great senior leaders, and I am really looking forward to next year.”

The future beyond high school is also bright. Pierce said he already has scholarship offers, including one from The Citadel. He also has interest in Georgia, Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State. He is hoping to have another strong summer in east Cobb after his team advanced to the Connie Mack World Series in New Mexico last year. With an impressive summer, his stock will certainly rise.

“This summer will be a key for where I see scholarships come from,” Pierce said. “I’ve have had some Major League scouts come and talk to me, and I have thought if I get a chance to get drafted or going the junior college route and playing two years and being able to go to the draft.”

But for now, Northwest fans and area baseball fans get the chance to look forward to one more year here.

Here is a look at the rest of the All-Area lineup:

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Southeast High School Raiders
  • 7on7 championship game6.jpg Bringing in the best

    When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
    For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW softball state championship file 1 mlh.jpg In the lineup again

    When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
    Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Junior golf: Hicks able to hang for final round

    Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.

    June 18, 2014

  • Isabel Salinas 5 mlh.jpg All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age

    Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
    One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • poty seth.jpg All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

    As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • State soccer: Raiders come up a goal short

    GAINESVILLE — Southeast Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team needed at least one break to go its way against Johnson-Gainesville in Tuesday’s Class 4A state semifinals.
    Even when the Raiders believed they had earned a break, they didn’t receive the credit.

    May 14, 2014

  • Lumpkin at SE soccer 1 mlh.jpg Prep boys soccer: Different routes for Dalton, SE

    The boys soccer teams at Dalton and Southeast Whitfield high schools are eyeing a return to the Class 4A state title game.
    But while they share a common ambition, the routes the Catamounts and Raiders must take to reach the championship on May 17 at Kennesaw State University are taking a different turn tonight.

    May 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • SE signing 1 CW.jpg Prep volleyball: SE libero Paloblanco to Temple

    In volleyball, the libero position is limited to playing on the back row and specializes in defensive contributions.
    Southeast Whitfield High School senior Yasmeen Paloblanco wasn’t limited in what she meant to the Lady Raiders, though, and her ability to excel as a libero is helping her remain on the court as she heads to college.

    May 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • harper signing1.jpg Challenges met

    Since he was very young, Southeast Whitfield High School senior Rhett Harper has often had a ball in his hand, with another game to play or a practice somewhere on his calendar.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hopkins sisters 2 mlh.jpg Sectionals for sisters

    TUNNEL HILL — When you consider all of the hours of practice, all of the years of gymnastics training and the physical demands of being a cheerleader, the last word you would expect to hear an athlete use to describe herself is “lazy.”

    April 26, 2014 1 Photo