High expectations are standard for Panthers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Georgiana Panthers finished last season with a record of 6-7 and came within one game of making it to the Alabama High School Athletic Association state playoffs for the first time in a bunch of years. Since anyone around here can remember as Panther coach Donald Ray Mixon puts it.

Making it to the playoffs this season won't be an easy task for the Panthers this year either. Last season, the Panthers were in an area with Goshen and Luverne. Thanks to redistricting and the realignment, the Panthers have a brand new area. A much tougher area as well. This year, the Panthers will find themselves in an area with Red Level, Flomaton and Excel.

"We moved into Excel, Flomaton and Red Level and it's going to be a much tougher region for us," said Mixon. "I played Flomaton last year twice and they beat us pretty good the first time we played.

Excel was ranked No. 2 or No.3 in the state last year."

Despite the new area, Mixon still has high expectations for his team.

This year, the Panthers will have three seniors on their team. Stewart Crittendon, Justin Ray and David Campbell will be playing their final season in the blue and white.

"We are a middle-aged team," said Mixon. "I have very high expectations for this squad this season."

Crittendon and Ray have been with the program and Campbell is entering his first year as a member of the Panthers baseball squad.

With the three seniors, Mixon will also look to Kenny Peterson and Kyle Nelson to provide leadership roles for the team.

Along with being in a tough region, the Panthers will also play a very tough schedule.

"We go play Hillcrest next Tuesday and they're a 4A, then we have Greenville on Friday and they're a 5A," said Mixon. "We've got a 4A a 5A it's going to be pretty tough schedule this season. But I did it for a reason. I scheduled those games so the kids could see where they were and what they needed to work on."

The Panthers will kick off their season on Feb. 22 by hosting Hillcrest-Evergreen. That next weekend they will be action by traveling to Greenville on Feb. 22.

They will end the month of February with their rival from down the road, McKenzie. First pitch for that game is set for 1 p.m.

To open the month of March, they travel to Evergreen on March 1 and then host J.F. Shields on March 8.

Following the Shields game, the Panthers have a 13-day break and then they jump feet first into area competition with Flomaton and Excel back-to-back.