ROBERTA, Ga. — "A tale of two seasons" is frequently used to describe the journey for a team.
For the Crawford County Eagles, though, that truly is the case.
A slow start to the year saw Coach Craig Puckett's team lose six of its first seven games, but somewhere along the way, that all changed. Coming down the stretch end of the regular season, the Eagles have now won 13 of their last 15.
"We tried to intentionally put some teams that were a little bit tougher teams because we knew we had a team that we felt like we could make a deep run in the playoffs," Puckett said. "And then we started catching some momentum in the last half of the season and it's just been going on from there."
Thanks to a high-powered ACE Gryphons program, Crawford County may have just barely missed out on a region title, but that has only added fuel to the fire in the second half of the year.
It's all thanks to a senior group that has taken the initiative to stay late after practice and work, along with a talented pitching rotation of underclassmen, led by freshman Drew Hammock.
As Crawford County is now set to host a Sweet 16 series for the first time ever against Emanuel County Institute, it's safe to say the Eagles are almost a completely different team.
"We've worked so hard," senior outfielder Brennan Hudson said. "I mean we've been dreaming about this since we were freshmen. We knew something big was going to come, we just didn't know when."
"I've actually had the opportunity to coach these guys since they were in rec ball," Puckett said. "We all played rec ball together. My son's on the team, so a lot of these boys come to the house, stay around here. It's been a great group we've been coaching probably ten, twelve years."
The Eagles easily cruised by rival Taylor County in the first round of the Class A-Public tournament with a pair of wins.
Now, they aren't shy about admitting there's a new rival -- one they hope to meet in this year's state championship.
That rival would be ACE.
The Eagles and Bulldogs face off in a doubleheader Wednesday night. Should a third game be necessary, the series will resume on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.