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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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