The fire-breathing Dragons from Lindale claimed their 18th region title Wednesday, shutting out the Gordon Central Warriors 15-0 on home turf in the penultimate regular-season game.
The victory gives Pepperell Region 7-AA’s No. 1 seed, locking up home field advantage for the first three rounds of the Class AA state playoffs. A GHSA coin flip determined the top side of the bracket, where Pepperell is located, will be the host in the quarterfinal round when equal seeds meet.
“Bringing a region title back to Lindale this year really just gives us validation on so many levels,” Dragons head coach Chad Brown said in an emailed statement. “It validates how hard our kids work in the offseason, and the sacrifices they make. It validates our process and the program we’re building, our team concepts and approaches to the game. And, to me, it validates what was started last year with the 2020 group. Hopefully it brings them a little closure, knowing they are a big part of what we accomplished this year.”
During Wednesday’s contest against the Warriors, Hunter Henderson got it done both at the plate and on the mound. He delivered two innings, allowing zero hits, and also went 2-for-2 at the plate with a triple and two RBIs.
Chase Gresham was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Gresham’s base hit in the bottom of the fourth delivered the game-and-region winning hit.
As the Dragons celebrated with a dog pile, Brown said that moment made him reflect on the evolution of his squad.
“Early on, we were a bunch of individuals who struggled with failure and accountability,” Brown said. “We picked ‘brick’ as a theme this year. In order to be strong, we couldn’t have any cracked or crooked bricks in our wall. We focused really hard on becoming better teammates, better people, doing the right thing, and learning how to compete ... laying perfect bricks every day. Playing solid baseball and winning games was just a side effect once they bought into that concept.”
Pepperell (19-10, 14-3 Region 7-AA) concludes the 2021 regular season Friday at Gordon Central High School in Calhoun. The Dragons will host Region 6-AA’s No. 4 seed Booker T. Washington next week in the first round of the playoffs.
“Being at Otis Gilbreath Field is going to be huge, but it’s also going to come with plenty of distractions,” Brown said. “The key for us is to not get caught up in things outside the lines. Staying focused on one pitch at a time, hitting spots, and making routine plays. Having good approaches and being tough outs. I love watching us compete and hopefully we get to do that a couple more weeks.”
The three-game series’ start times are yet to be determined.