Hiller, Brett led teams through early questions to state titles
Back in the preseason, Houston County baseball head coach Jason Brett knew he had an elite pitching rotation but wasn’t sure how much offense the Bears could produce.
At the same time, Tattnall Square head coach Joey Hiller wondered how quickly youngsters mixed in with seniors would gain the sharpness and confidence to perform on a high level.
The answers were pretty good.
Houston County went through assorted lineup changes, and it all came together late in the year en route to the GHSA Class AAAAA title. Tattnall Square’s young players faced big-school competition, in Georgia and outside of Georgia, and answered the call, paving the way for the GHSA Class A private school title.
The success led to Brett and Hiller being named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Co-Coaches of the year.
Brent Korn followed Treutlen’s Class A title this spring by moving to Vidalia. Piedmont and head coach Daniel Funt won the GISA Class AA title, but the Bears and Trojans faced some quality opposition en route to their titles, and watched as their preseason concerns faded away.
“We knew we were going to ahve to be a little more creative offensively,” said Brett, who is 137-63 at Houston County. “We also knew that our pitching staff would give us time for our young kids to kind of develop.”
Players like Blake Dawson and Austin Langford ended up being major offensive helps, and assorted Bears (29-9) stepped up at different times as the pitching staff of Tony Locey, D.L. Hall and Tanner Hall controlled things on the mound.
“The guys just grew up,” Brett said. “They were put in tough situations early and never blinked.”
That’s quite similar to how the Trojans’ sophomore group aged quickly, facing the likes of Class AAAAAA teams in Georgia and Florida.
“We really didn’t know how our sophomores would respond to being in the fire,” said Hiller, owner of a 468-120 record. “We knew we made a really tough schedule and put together a strategic plan for the season, and kind of had the idea, ‘Let’s get comfortable being unconfortable.’
“Everything really fell into place.”
The Trojans finished 27-8, and like Houston County, won the state title on their home field, playing like veterans down the stretch.
“It all worked out really, really well,” Hiller said. “The kids responded tremendously and worked really, really hard.”
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The facility was empty, but head coach Jason Brett was still hanging around after winning the state championship Tuesday.
Michael A. Loughmlough@macon.com