Three months and 21 wins later he has a region championship, not to mention a much clearer picture of where his boys stand amongst the state’s elite.
“Coming into the year I didn’t see this kind of success when you consider we just had a handful of guys coming back with varsity experience,” said English, now in his fourth year as Dunwoody’s skipper. “But we’ve really developed into a great team, not just about one or two guys but with a lot of guys chipping in.
“So many different guys have stepped up and surprised us this year.”
Among his biggest surprises to date are shortstop Jared Laidlaw and outfielder Devin Borg, a pair of defensive standouts that have helped starting pitchers Ryan Gaines (7-1, 1.43 ERA), Josh Shailer (6-0, 2.66) and Logan Elliot (5-1, 0.42) limit opposing offenses to just over three runs per game.
Catcher Charlie Madden (5 HR, 21 RBI) and third basemen Will Hudgins (5 HR, 27 RBI) have paced an explosive Dunwoody offense, giving English a well-rounded roster that he hopes can make some noise in the post season.
“The goal coming into this year was just to be competitive and successful, and we have certainly done that,” said English, whose team has won 12 of their last 13 games. “The goal now is to take this momentum and try to win the whole thing.”
Dunwoody last won a state championship in 2007 under head coach Tom Bass. A year ago English’s team entered the state playoffs as a No. 2 seed, but were tripped up in the opening round by Pope.
As the No. 1 seed from Region 6AAAAA this season, his team will host Riverwood in the first round of the state playoffs this weekend and if they survive will have the opportunity to host a second round series the following week.
“It’s always nice going to the state playoffs as a region champions because that top seed carries a lot of weight,” said English.
Other DeKalb teams jumping into the playoff fun include Redan, Lakeside and Decatur.
Redan, who finished as runner-up to Marist in 6AAAA, will be the No. 2 seed from their region and host their opening round state playoff series. Lakeside, the third seed from 6AAAAA, will travel to Creekview in the opening round while Decatur, the No. 4 seed from 6AAA, will play at 7AAA champion North Hall in the opening round.
Each first round playoff series will be held in a best-of-three format, with a double-header played this Friday and a deciding third game played on Saturday if necessary.