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Coach Cannady prepares Dogs for Final Four

Below is the the video and written summary of  Keith Edge’s interview with Coach Cannady regarding the Bulldog’s preparation for the GHSA Final Four matchup with Calvary Day this Friday. 

In our preseason interview, you described your non-region schedule as daunting,  as you look back, how  has it prepared the team for this moment?

You don’t get any better scheduling soft, and that was one of the key things that I knew coming back from last year was we had a veteran group coming back,  a team that  I felt like that I could push and if things didn’t go our way early in season, they wouldn’t give up. They knew the end goals and the goals that we set for our self. where we could play up and play some very, good teams, teams that are perennial powers in this state that (it)would get us prepared for this moment it seems to be paying off for us. In our last 21 games were 17 and four.

We wouldn’t be in this spot if we didn’t go through those valleys that we did early in the season against some great teams.  I look back on February 23rd and February 24th, we go down to Houston County and face Flowery Branch, North Paulding and Houston County.  Of course,  though,  we’re in there as well and three out of those four teams are in the Final Four right now.   It’s something that we knew that we had a chance to be very good and started playing hot here the last 20 games , or so, of the season.

Well coach by winning the Region championship. You, you’ve had the pleasure of playing the first three rounds at the friendly confines of Thrill Hill. The dog bone yard. How have you prepared the dogs for your first time on the road on a big stage at the historic Grayson Stadium with a very good Cavalry Day team in the semifinals?

Oh yeah, it’s been a lot of fun the last three weeks.  I think the preparation started back in February when we started this season.  Before the regular season we played 11 home games outta 28 total games.  So we went on the road a whole lot that was kind of done on purpose,  knowing that we could possibly see ourself on the road in some big time matchups.  And, so I wanted to go on the road during the regular season a lot, only 11 home games out of 28.  We’re getting away from our home field advantage of having the all grass infield. So we needed to get some reps on a dirt infield. So,  Coach Duffey at Jackson High School, was very open to us coming in there and using his facility, we’re good friends.  We’re frienemies, I guess, ’cause they’re right down the road. It was a good rivalry. but he was all for us coming up there yesterday and we spent two hours  getting some defensive work on a dirt infield and I think it’s gonna pay huge dividends this week at Grayson Stadium.

You have some veteran pitchers and five awesome seniors that are your leaders. how much are you leaning on them?

Man, we’ve leaned on Cole Carr and Jake Grant since the beginning. We knew  those were our top two arms. They throw game one and game two for us. They’ve got over 50 innings for us. Nobody else has over 30. So we’ve leaned heavily on those guys  a lot for this year. But I knew that we were gonna have to lean on them,  obviously,  when the playoffs come. So we kept innings pitched and pitch counts low during the season because I needed them fresh for this time.  It seems to be working right now. Those guys are really fresh right now.

And, every time they get the ball, they have competed their tail off,  it’s been a lot of fun in the last three weeks. You speak of those five seniors we got, we got three of them that hit in the middle of our lineup and they all three combined have hit over 300 and had a lot of big hits and big time situations for us.  So we are always gonna depend on those veterans, but we don’t depend on one more than the other. We got a very tough lineup right now. I feel like all nine of our guys in our starting lineup are tough outs right now.   You can kind of see that by our scores right now in those game twos and game threes. We’ve been able to put up some big numbers to help our pitching staff when we needed to.

Preview for the fans a little about our Final Four opponent Calvary Day.

First glance with Calvary Day, they seem like they are  mirror images of us. A team that doesn’t have an easy out in the lineup. They are really comfortable with throwing five or six pitchers kinda like we are. We got our two main guys, but we feel really confident about our bullpen and our game. Three guys, whoever may be called on to get the ball in a game three situation. Seems like a very athletic team that we’re going against. We may have a slight edge in the catching department when you’re talking about we have the likes of Brady Christman and Ryan Causey behind the plate that have a strong arm behind the plate. So that might be the only thing that we have a slight edge in. It seems like, again, two mirror image teams and it sounds like it’s gonna be a real battle this weekend at Grayson Stadium with Calvary Day.

Does having  almost a week off between the third round and the semifinals help the team or would you prefer a shorter period?

I think it helps our pitching staff more than anything. We had a short week last week, so kind of going into it, I knew Jake Grant and Cole Carr probably were not gonna be able to go near that 90 pitch count to 100 that we’ve been accustomed to the first two weeks of the playoffs. So I knew that we were probably gonna be around that 70 pitch mark and that’s exactly what we got to in Wesleyan. I think Cole threw 71 and,  Jake Grant threw 72.  I knew and those guys were gonna be on a lower pitch count just because of the short rest. We were on a three day rest where this one we get a, a full six days or so to get there. I think the pitchers, those two pitchers mainly,  are  the real good thing about having a week break and those guys will be well rested and  being able to compete and if they need to go longer in their pitch counts, we can go longer.  Cause we’ll also have another week long break before we hopefully are in the state championship the following week.

Tune in Friday at 3:45 PM for live play by play coverage of the Dogs,  live from Savannah on the Sportsmic App.  Keith Edge and Ricky “Hotdog” Wilson will have the call!

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