From Staff Reports
Northwest Whitfield High School’s baseball team made 2013 one of the program’s best in several years.
When it came time to pick the All-Region 7-4A team, the quality of the Bruins’ lineup was impossible for coaches to overlook.
Northwest, which won the Region 7-4A title and earned a spot in the state playoffs — in their first trip to state since winning region in 2007, the Bruins advanced to the second round — had six players selected to the all-region team as picked by coaches. Because he was coach of the region championship team, Northwest’s Todd Middleton was automatically named Region 7-4A Coach of the Year.
Region 7-4A was split into sub-regions this season, and because not every region team saw every other team from the opposite sub-region, coaches elected to vote within their own sub-regions and combine those selections for the all-region lineup.
Selected for the team from Northwest were Brady Middleton (infielder) — the coach’s son — A.J. Orozco (designated hitter/utility player), Seth Pierce (pitcher), Brandon Smith (outfielder), Wade Terrell (pitcher) and Andy Whisenant (outfielder). The Bruins’ Edwin Hernandez and Diego Peralta earned honorable mention.
But coach Middleton saw no weak spots in his lineup and said it wouldn’t have been a stretch to have his entire team to earn all-region selections. The Bruins needed rallies and series comebacks to defeat Cass for the region title and Grady in the first round of state, and that meant several different heroes emerged along the way.
“All nine of our regulars contributed a lot,” coach Middleton said. “... It’s a great honor for those guys that made it, and they were all a big part of what we did. I’m proud of them.”
The Bruins finished the season with a 24-8 mark after being swept by Stephens County in the second round of state.
Coach Middleton acknowledged that this year’s success went beyond talent, although the Bruins had plenty of that, too.
“As far as teamwork goes, it seems like it was always somebody different coming up big in different situations,” he said. “As far as the way they’ve gone about things, they worked hard. The chemistry was great this year. They pulled for each other and that was a big thing. The leadership these seniors showed was second to none. They led by example, they led vocally, they did it all. They let their actions on the field talk for them.”
Southeast Whitfield’s Blake Foster (infielder) and Jose Vargas (catcher) were also all-region selections, while teammates Abram Stanley and Devin Gentry earned honorable mention.
Dalton did not have any selections to the team, but Brandon Dale, Will Erwin, Charlie Martin and Matt Wells all earned honorable mention.