A handful of former Bartow County baseball players are headed to the NCAA Division II tournament — all as members of the Young Harris College program.
Three local athletes saw action for the Mountain Lions, as they won the Peach Belt Conference championship over the weekend. Tyler Washington stood out among the group, and the former Adairsville standout will certainly be remembered among the players most responsible for helping lead YHC to the national tourney.
Washington finished 10-for-16, including three doubles, with two walks, six runs scored and four RBIs. Thanks in part to those contributions, YHC will compete in a three-team regional tournament this week in South Carolina.
There were plenty of other great performances by Bartow athletes at the collegiate level this past week.
Cartersville High graduate Terry Berdin qualified for nationals as part of the 4x100-meter relay team at Reinhardt; former Canes softball pitcher Annalyn Yantis threw a complete-game shutout in her final collegiate start; and Kingston native Spencer Fields was named male track and field athlete of the year by his conference.
Sam Howard (Albuquerque Isotopes, Colorado Rockies organization; Cartersville) — Howard earned his third hold of the season Friday night with a two-inning relief appearance in a 2-1 victory at El Paso. Howard entered in the sixth inning and faced eight batters. He allowed no runs on one hit and one walk in the stint with a pair of strikeouts. Monday, May 6, at Tacoma, Howard faced four batters in the sixth inning and recorded only one out, yielding a pair of earned runs on two hits and a walk with one strikeout in a no-decision of a 12-8 loss. Howard has a 1-0 record in 13 relief appearances this season. He has worked just over 20 innings with a 5.31 ERA, 15 walks and 25 strikeouts. The Isotopes (20-18) are in third place in the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division trailing El Paso by 5 1/2 games and Las Vegas by 3 1/2 games.
Connor Justus (Mobile BayBears, L.A. Angels organization; Cartersville) — Justus started four home games last week against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and went 3-for-12 at the plate. For the season, Justus has a .225 batting average in 29 games and 80 at-bats. He has one home run with four RBIs and has stolen three bases. Defensively, Justus has started 20 games at shortstop, six at second base and two at third base with a .961 fielding percentage in 102 total chances. He has been part of 13 double plays turned by the BayBears. Mobile (15-20) is in fourth place in the Southern League’s South Division, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
Elliott Anderson (Auburn Jr., Cartersville) — Anderson faced two batters and retired the final out of the sixth inning in the Tigers’ 4-3 win at seventh-ranked Georgia Saturday. He also entered in the first inning of the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader and worked into the fourth inning of a 10-8 loss to Georgia. For the day, Anderson worked 3 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk. He struck out two. Auburn (30-21, 13-14 SEC) hosts North Alabama tonight before traveling to LSU to wrap up the conference regular season with a three-game set Thursday through Saturday. Auburn will open the SEC tournament in the single-elimination opening round on May 21 in Hoover, Alabama. Seeding will determine the Tigers’ opening opponent with first round winners advancing to the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
Levi Ayers (Georgia Highlands Fr., Cartersville) — Ayers faced four batters Wednesday and was saddled with the pitching loss to East Georgia State at the GCAA postseason tournament in Albany. Ayers entered in the sixth inning and allowed a run on one hit and two walks in the Chargers’ 8-3 loss. GHC was knocked out of the tournament later in the day with a loss to South Georgia State. Ayers finished the season with a 2-1 record in 13 appearances. He worked 20 innings with a 4.50 ERA and 17 strikeouts. Georgia Highlands finished the season with a 29-25 mark.
Bailey Campbell (Young Harris So., Cass) — Campbell made an appearance as a pinch-hitter Friday in a 10-6 loss to Georgia College at the Peach Belt Conference Tournament in St. Augustine, Florida. Campbell grounded out, but he advanced a baserunner to third in the 11th inning. The Mountain Lions went 3-1 in the tournament. They not only reached the league's championship game for the first time but also won the school’s first PBC baseball championship by defeating USC-Aiken Sunday. Campbell has battled injury during the 2019 season but has a .313 batting average in 28 games (21 starts) and 80 at-bats. Young Harris (35-19) advances to the NCAA D-II tournament as an automatic qualifier and will be the No. 6-seed in Southeast Regional No. 2 at Newberry College (South Carolina), where they will open against Catawba College (North Carolina) Thursday.
Clifton Dempsey (Toccoa Falls Jr., Cartersville) — Dempsey went 5-for-13 with a triple, one RBI, five runs scored and a pair of walks in the Screaming Eagles’ three games at the National Christian College Athletic Association South Region hosted by Brewton-Parker College. Toccoa Falls defeated the hosts 8-7 on Thursday, but it lost to Warner University (Florida) 18-6 and Trinity Baptist College (Florida) 6-5 Friday to be eliminated from the tournament. Toccoa Falls finished the 2019 season with a 24-24 record.
Mason Robinson (Louisiana Tech R-Sr., Woodland) — Robinson went 1-for-4 with a walk and scored a run as the Bulldogs routed 15th-ranked LSU 12-1 last Tuesday in a nonconference game. He was then 2-for-7 with a double, one run scored and two RBIs as his team took two of three games over visiting Western Kentucky in a Conference USA series. Robinson has a .294 batting average through 48 games and 170 at-bats. He has three home runs and 23 RBIs. The Bulldogs (32-20, 15-12) play at Mississippi State tonight before finishing the regular season with a C-USA series at Florida International Thursday through Saturday. The conference tournament begins the following Wednesday in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Tristin Smith (Young Harris Sr., Adairsville) — Smith singled and drove in a run in an 11th-inning, pinch-hitting appearance Friday during a 10-6 loss to Georgia College during pool play at the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. He also started the next game Saturday — a 14-4 win over Georgia Southwestern — and was 0-for-3 with a walk. The Mountain Lions went on to defeat 24th-ranked North Georgia Saturday night to win their pool and reach the PBC tournament championship game, where they defeated USC-Aiken to win the school’s first PBC tournament title and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Devin Warner (Auburn Fr., Cartersville) — Warner made his 12th plate appearance of his freshman season Friday as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter during an 11-2 home loss to seventh-ranked Georgia. Warner has a .273 batting average in 11 at-bats with three RBIs, a run scored, and he was hit by a pitch once.
Tyler Washington (Young Harris Sr., Adairsville) — Washington had a monster weekend for the Mountain Lions, as they not only reached their first finals but also won the school’s first Peach Belt Conference Championship Tournament in St. Augustine, Florida. In four tournament games, Washington was 10-for-16 with three doubles, two walks, a sacrifice, six runs scored and four RBIs, extending a six-game hitting streak. He raised his batting average to .346 for the season in 42 games (35 starts) and 136 at-bats. Washington has two homers, 15 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs. He has also swiped five bases.
Annalyn Yantis (Samford Sr., Cartersville) — Yantis tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout last Thursday to help lead the Bulldogs past Furman 7-0 in an elimination game at the Southern Conference Tournament in Chattanooga. It was Samford’s only win of the double-elimination tournament and the second career shutout for Yantis in her final collegiate appearance. Samford’s season ended with a loss to East Tennessee State and a 23-31 season record. Yantis finished the 2019 season 5-8 in the circle with a 5.25 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 84 innings across 22 appearances.
TRACK AND FIELD
Terry Berdin (Reinhardt Fr., Cartersville) — Berdin ran the anchor leg, as Reinhardt's 4x100 relay team clinched a national qualifying "B" standard time in the Montreat College Last Chance Twilight meet Thursday. The Eagles placed runner-up in the event, but the more important aspect was finishing in 41.97 seconds, eclipsing the needed time by 0.02 seconds.
Spencer Fields (Rhodes Sr., Kingston native) — Fields earned the distinction of being named the male track and field athlete of the year by the Southern Athletic Association on Monday, May 6. According to a release announcing the honor, Fields, at the time, held the ninth best 10k time in the nation this season at 30 minutes, 12.48 seconds. He also garnered second-team all-conference honors by placing second in each of the 10k and 5k races at the SAA championships.
— Charles Wilson of Bartow Sports Zone contributed to this report.