HAHIRA, GA (WALB) - The Valwood Valiants will play for their first-ever state baseball title this weekend, and it comes against an opponent they know very well.
Valwood will take on region foe Deerfield-Windsor in the three-game championship series beginning this weekend.
While all the focus has been on baseball this week, head coach Robert Shipman says he's also trying to minimize the distractions that come with playing for a title.
"We're just sort of tempering the excitement, keeping it simple," he says. "With the pageantry of championship games, and the TV interviews, the radio, the newspaper, all the things that go with it, we're just trying to not be distracted."
The Valiants dropped both regular season games to the Knights this year, but they feel they've improved since then,
They also believe their playoff run has toughened them up.
After a relatively easy first round sweep over Frederica, Valwood went on the road to knock off two number one seeds in three games.
Shipman believes those wins have boosted his team's confidence.
"We feel like we're battle-tested. A couple of those games we had to come back and pull them out," Shipman notes. "We just feel like this is the end, and we're going to leave it all out on the field."
His players share that same sentiment.
"We're use to battling, so we know how," says senior centerfielder Parker Bonner. "If we get behind in a game, we'll be fine. We know we can do it, so we'll see what happens"
Game one of the three-game series is Friday at 4:00 p.m. Game two will be Saturday at 1:00 p.m., with game three 45 minutes after the conclusion of the second game if necessary. All three will be at Deerfield.