Springtime is closely linked with feelings of hope — and during the past few months, the high hopes of several local teams turned into reality.
The Pepperell and Darlington baseball teams, for example, ignited their respective fan bases with deep playoff runs earlier this month, while numerous other teams and individuals likewise left their marks on a statewide level, with some even bringing home championships.
The Darlington girls golf team shot out to state as the No. 1 seed in their area, and won the state title in perhaps the most thrilling way imaginable — with a one-shot victory.
Darlington’s Miles Bearden dominated the high jump at the boys state track meet by out-jumping not only his Class A-Private School opponents, but all participatins in all classifications of the event, from Class A to AAAAAA.
Darlington senior Alex Cox won the state title in the 400-meter dash by almost two seconds, the largest margin in the event.
The senior-led Pepperell and Darlington baseball teams put together two magical runs to the Final Four of their respective tournaments.
After a close three-game series with GAC in the first round, Pepperell cruised to the Final Four by sweeping its next two opponents.
The Dragons were stopped by powerful Westminster, which had swept all of its opponents through the Final Four.
Darlington also made a deep postseason run, which ended in the semifinals with a Game 3 loss to eventual state champion Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.
The Coosa baseball team put together an impressive season, finishing as the No. 2 seed in Region 7-AA in Gus Bell’s final season at the helm, and Model earned a state bid as the No. 4 seed.
The Armuchee girls soccer team took a No. 2 seed in 7-AA to cap off their successful regular season, and the Model Lady Devils used a win over Murray County in the last game of the regular season to get the No. 4 seed and qualify for state.
The Coosa and Armuchee boys soccer teams notched the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, to earn spots in the state event.
The Rome girls soccer team faced the challenge of playing their first year in Class AAAAA — and the Lady Wolves rose to that challenge in a big way by ultimately qualifying for state as the No. 4 seed in 5-AAAAA.
The Armuchee boys golf team took the Region 7-AA title in highly-memorable fashion by using their last hole to take the win over Calhoun.
The Darlington boys advanced to sectionals with the No. 4 seed in their area, and the Rome boys golf team advanced to sectionals with its second-place finish in 5-AAAAA. It was the first state appearance in school history for the Wolves.
In tennis, the Darlington girls put together a strong postseason run, reaching the Elite Eight.
The Armuchee teams also shined, as both the boys and girls teams secured the No. 2 seeds from 7-AA and advanced to state.
The postseason showing capped a dominating season in which the Lady Indians won the 7-AA regular-season title and earned a win over traditional powerhouse Calhoun.
Armuchee’s top two singles players, Ebony Short and Hailey Critchlow, both went undefeated in the regular season.
The Pepperell girls tennis team also advanced to state, as they routinely do, and the boys team advanced as the No. 3 seed from 7-AA.
The Coosa boys team had a state-qualifying fourth-place finish in 7-AA.
For track, the Pepperell, Model, Coosa and Darlington boys teams and the Coosa, Pepperell, Model, Armuchee and Darlington girls teams all had representatives in the state meets.
Terar Stewart secured a third-place finish for Dar-lington in the girls shot put in the Class A-Private meet, and Model’s Carla Clemmons placed fourth in the Class AA girls shot put.
The Darlington boys track team finished third in the state in the Class A-Private School division.