After a run of runner-up finishes, the First Preparatory Christian Academy baseball coaches wanted to make sure their team was ready for the postseason fray.
That led to a demanding schedule, which included one of the top teams in Florida, the state champs in GIAA Class AAA, the runners-up in AAA and the runners-up in AAAA.
Oh, and don’t forget the fashion statement the players made as the playoffs started – bleached blond hair across the roster – that ended with the school’s first state championship.
“We made sure these boys were ready for the state championship,” Highlanders coach Elias Macias said. This year we loaded with tough, tough opponents. We traveled. We traveled to the 4A state runner-up. We traveled to the 3A state champs and we traveled to Tampa to play one of the best teams in the country. We were deserving of it at the end of the day.”
En route to its Class A baseball championship, FPCA took Florida’s Northside Christian, which finished 22-7 and was a region semifinalist in the FHSAA’s Class AA, to the wire in an 8-7 loss.
They also ran into the Class AAA all-sports buzzsaw of John Milledge Academy and split a home-and-home with AAA runner-up Pinewood Christian.
FPCA went through this gauntlet with a top player having torn a UCL and a shortstop with a broken toe.
“It was never easy for us,” Macias said.
In the loss to Northside Christian, Macias looked around for someone to pitch the final inning. Evan North stepped up.
“Evan was that tough, tough kid who just kept us together,” Macias said. “He always wanted to shine in that moment. He wants to be the guy to win for it us. He has supreme confidence, and I love it. Evan is a kid with unbelievable potential.”
The Highlanders’ fifth-year players, Caleb Harmon and Cameron Eason, prompted their teammates to get the new hair styles.
“.They had played in four state championships with black and brown hair,” Macias said. “That goes to show our team camaraderie. Their girlfriends hated it. Their moms hated it. But they loved it.”
With FPCA alum Richard Lovelady currently in the major leagues, and three current Highlanders already headed to play college baseball, Macias believes Hinesville can become a baseball community. He’s also fielding a slew of calls about other players.
“Now we know baseball can come out of this town,” he said. “Our boys deserved it and they deserve more than that. They deserve the college scholarships. They deserve the all-state awards. They deserve it all. Without the great group of young kids that First Preparatory Christian Academy has created, this wouldn’t happen.
“We have some great kids, and God was looking after them.”