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Local GISA baseball stars make All-State teams

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- The GISA baseball seasons may be over for all but one Southwest Georgia team -- Crisp Academy, which plays in the Class A state final starting Friday -- but there were still awards to be handed out Tuesday.

That's when the annual GISA All-State teams were announced for all classes, and players from Deerfield-Windsor, Sherwood Christian, Southwest Georgia Academy, Terrell Academy, Randolph Southern and Crisp Academy all received nods.

In Class AAA, DWS had two players make the list: Banks Kinslow and Chris Moates -- both juniors -- while the Knights' bitter rival, Tattnall Square, saw its star pitcher, DeAndre Smelter named the AAA Player of the Year.

"I'm proud of my guys and DeAndre is a good kid with a bright future," said DWS coach Rod Murray, who was also anointed as one of three head coaches to lead the GISA Georgia All-Star Team against Alabama's private-school All-Stars in a border war game June 7 in Troy, Ala. Also chosen as co-head coaches for the game were Tiftarea's Chris Howell from AA and Terrell Academy's Ashley Walker from Class A.

Moates and Kinslow both had great seasons, leading the Knights to the Elite Eight, where Smelter's Trojans knocked them out for the third straight year.

Kinslow, the Region 3-AAA Player of the Year, finished with an 8-1 record on the mound -- a team best -- with a .480 batting average, including 36 hits, 31 RBI, 1 HR, 21 runs scored and a .576 on-base percentage. Moates, meanwhile, posted a 5-2 pitching record with a .444 batting average, 32 hits, 32 RBI, 6 HRs, 22 runs scored and a .515 OBP.

The All-Star game vs. Alabama, however, is just for GISA seniors, and DWS' representative in the game will be senior standout Michael Matthews, who was named to the All-Region team after batting .330 with 25 hits, 28 runs scored and a .460 OBP.

Murray and Walker both agreed Tuesday that the game is going to be an awesome experience for players from both states, and that it says a lot about Southwest Georgia's private-school baseball to have three coaches chosen from the area to lead the state's team.

"I think, traditionally, baseball in this part of the state is very good, and we appreciate the (GISA) state offices noticing that," Murray said. "And we'll do our very best we can to represent Georgia well in that game."

Walker added: "It says a lot about Southwest Georgia baseball as a whole and it's an honor to be chosen. Plus, you have two teams from our area -- Crisp Academy and Citizen's Christian -- playing for the state title Friday. Baseball just continues to be great down here."

Walker had two players make the Class A All-State team: Cole Phillips and Colby Blackburn, both of whom will play in the All-Star game, as well.

Phillips hit .380 this year with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR and 16 RBI, while Blackburn led the team with a .440 average, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HRs -- also a team-high -- 27 runs scored and 36 RBI.

Joining the two Eagles stars on the Class A squad were two standouts from Randolph Southern -- Jon Floyd and Andrew Bacon -- as well a staggering five players from Crisp, which opens the state championship, best-of-three series, against CCA on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Douglas. That will be followed by Game 2 on Saturday, then Game 3, if necessary.

Understandably, however, Crisp Academy coach Brett Freeman didn't want the names of his five All-State players to be released until after the state final.

"We just want to stay focused on the task at hand. We've had a great season as a team and that's all I want my guys to think about right now," Freeman told The Herald on Tuesday. "We can think about (the individual awards) after the final game on Saturday."

Floyd and Bacon were no-brainers for the Class A team. Floyd batted .387 with an OBP of .478 and a slugging percentage of .565, with 9 RBI and 1 HR. Bacon hit .456 with 14 RBI and 2 HR, had a .530 OBP, a .719 SLG and an ERA of 2.59.

And finally, in Class AA, Southwest Georgia Academy had one player earn All-State honors -- Austin Boyd, who is headed to LaGrange College next year -- while local rival Sherwood also had one, Zane Hood.

This is Boyd's second straight All-State selection and his numbers back it up: a .412 batting average, 21 hits, 20 RBI and 11 extra-base hits. Boyd, the team's shutdown catcher, also threw out 68 percent of base-stealers this past season, while only committing one error.

Hood, meanwhile, hit .396 for the Eagles this year with a team-high six HRs and 23 RBI.