While the Spartans haven’t achieved contender status in Region 7AAAAA, they are certainly a step above where they were the year before with a 7-11 overall record and 4-8 region mark.
The season has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for North Springs, which started out 3-2, then lost six games in a row before winning three of its last five contests.
Nevertheless, North Springs coach Stephen Bengston said he is excited about the progress of his young team, which has already surpassed its win total of a year ago despite a large number of freshmen in its lineup.
“We’ve been up and down,” Bengston said. “But I’ve got to say that I’m very pleased. We’re playing in an incredibly tough region and the improvement we’ve made from last year to this year has been remarkable. We’ve been able to compete against some teams that in past, we haven’t been able to compete against and we’ve been able to beat some teams who we haven’t been able to beat. So, I think we’ve turned the corner. I start a lot of freshmen on my varsity team, so I’ve been very pleased with their development.”
A big part of the Spartans’ progress has come at the plate, where Bengston said they have been much more productive then they were last season.
“We’ve been hitting the ball better,” Bengston said. “We’ve been scoring some runs. We could throw it and catch it last year. We have the same pitchers back this year. Our pitching has been good and our defense has been good. The difference is we’ve been able to score some runs. We’ve got some offensive production that we didn’t get last year.”
Senior center fielder Bailey Wood has been a big part of North Springs’ revival at the plate with his strong hitting at the leadoff position.
“You talk to any coach in our region and if you ask them which one kid in our region to be careful [against], they would tell you Bailey Wood.” Bengston said. “He’s a real tough out right now.”
Junior first baseman Ben Granish and freshman shortstop Vincent Jackson have also contributed offensively.
Junior J.D. Grider is the ace of the North Springs pitching staff, compiling a 3-0 record and 2.17 earned run average going into the Spartans’ game with Sprayberry last Thursday.
“His wins have come against quality opponents,” Bengston said. “We threw him in there in our toughest games. He’s been our No. 1 pitcher the last two years. The kid is throwing very well for us.”
Freshman Noah Lambert has been another mainstay on the mound as the No. 2 pitcher on the Spartans’ staff.
North Springs is still taking its lumps in a tough 7AAAAA that features defending Class AAAAA champion Pope as well as state contenders Sprayberry and Sequoyah.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bengston said. “We’re exposed to great baseball, and I’ve got to say this year that this group of guys have really responded to that. Every day, we’re seeing the best baseball in Georgia and it’s a challenge. But my guys like challenges and that’s what they play for. To be the best, you’ve got to play the best.”