A few years have strolled by since these kids were running the base paths behind Lake Park and Sherwood schools. They were 3 feet tall. Then they graduated to the Dixie field behind the Sherwood Library, where they honed their skills.
Now Lindsey Short, all 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds of him, is hitting 400-foot bombs and Gil Gillespie is gunning down runners and handling catching duties with quiet skill. Harris Webb is turning plays at second, short and leading off for the DWS Knights as they enter the second round of the GISA playoffs, and Sammy Shellhaas is starting in right field as a sophomore.
The DWS roster also has role players Pete Langstaff, Cooper Shoemaker (two football titles), Chris Michas, Austin Murphy, Cole Butler (one football title) and Tyler Cook (two football titles) who are Albany Dixie League products. We’ve watched all of them grow up before our eyes and now they are chasing a GISA AAA baseball title.
We have also seen Rhett Cooper (two football titles) play football like a maniac. We saw him cover kickoffs as a sophomore running down the field with his hair on fire looking for someone to crush. He’s a baseball player with a middle linebacker mentality. We saw Davis Moore (two football titles) save a state championship, also as a sophomore, when he came off the bench late in the game to play corner back. Then he ran all over the world for two more seasons. Now a few months from graduation can they put together another championship?
It won’t be easy. Moore has been hampered by a hamstring injury and Cooper with a broken bone in his throwing hand. Last Saturday, Cooper used that inner linebacker to pitch through the pain in relief work
Then there is Banks Kinslow. I have debated his skill for a few years. Parents rage about how he is a great athlete. Let me set the record straight. He isn’t big, fast or strong like “great athletes” are, but by my count he has two championship rings in football, and one in basketball and track. He played safety, quarter back, shooting guard, handled punting duties, returned kicks, pitches, plays shortstop and drives the bus. He is by definition, a winner.
Senior Matt Moree (one football title) has been an anchor at the hot corner and with the bat. Both he and center fielder Michael Laslie (one football title and another Albany Dixie product) will be chasing their second title ring each having been a big part of last season’s undefeated football squad.
Senior Chris Moates transferred over from Lee County two seasons ago and has been the DWS ace on the mound. He hits third and has a batting average around .800. He and Weston King (one football ring), Matt Moree and younger brother James Moree (one football title) are Lee County Dixie League products.
For the past two seasons the Knights have been eliminated in the semis by Tattnall Square, but their nemesis De’Andre Smelter has moved on to play for Georgia Tech. Coach Rod Murray has his team hitting on all cylinders as they crushed Bulloch Academy in the opening round. This may be his year to bring it home.
DWS will host Arlington Christian at 3:30 Friday for a doubleheader in a three-game playoff. If the Knights win two, they will travel for the semifinal round.