The Tigers are looking to make another serious run at a state title and have established themselves as one of the top contenders with a 13-2 overall record and 9-2 mark in Region 6A.
“We knew we had most of our guys coming back from last year,” King’s Ridge coach Jason Couch said. “We finished off the year last year really strong, making it to the Elite Eight. We kind of had a feeling that this year, we should have some confidence with the players we had coming back. So, I’m not surprised we had a good start. We happen to be playing good baseball.”
King’s Ridge has continued the success it enjoyed in GISA, where the Tigers advanced to the semifinals in 2010 and quarterfinals in ’09.
“We were real happy with that first year [in GHSA in 2011].” Couch said. “Just going into the GHSA, we didn’t know what to expect.
“So we were just playing baseball, not really knowing what to do, really. We had a bunch of young players and kind of got hot at the right time and did really well in the playoff that year.
“The next year [in ‘12], we didn’t quite put it together and make the playoffs. But – thankfully – last year, we got back after it and we got back into the way we knew how to play.”
Pitching is the key to success for King’s Ridge, which features three strong starters in its rotation – juniors Adam Moore (3-0 record, 2.50 earned run average), Austin Higginbotham (5-1, 2.25) and Connor Burns (2-0, 2.99).
The Tigers also feature a formidable bullpen, with sophomore Kyle Brnovich (4 saves, 0.00 ERA) and senior Slade Osborne (1-0, 3.86) leading the way.
Junior right fielder Brandt Stallings has given King’s Ridge a boost at the plate, leading the team with a .489 batting average, while junior shortstop/pitcher Grayson Byrd has hit .423.
“Good pitching has definitely been our strength and we’ve had timely hitting to go along with that,” Couch said.
King’s Ridge features four players who have committed to NCAA Division I colleges – Byrd (LSU), Stallings (Georgia Tech), Burns (Wake Forest) and Higginbotham (Austin Peay).
“We’re real proud,” Couch said. “Those guys have worked real hard and earned every bit of that.
“We’re real happy to see those guys play at the next level and also, as a young school, get our name out there as much as possible.”
Couch said while his team is focused mainly on getting through a competitive Region 6A that includes last year’s Class A runner-up Mount Paran Christian, he is confident the pieces are in place for a serious run at a state championship.
“You certainly don’t want to get ahead of yourself while you’re still in the regular season, but we have every expectation of making a deep run in the playoffs,” Couch said.
“We knew at the beginning of the year that a state championship was definitely an obtainable goal. We certainly don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but our guys play at a very high level. A state championship has been our goal for a while and we want to keep that our goal this year.”