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Baseball: Big bats, senior depth have South Forsyth off to quick start
South Forsyth seniors, from left, Brooks Bennett, Brennan Hudson, Ryan Becker, Dylan Carter and Britton Rellinger have the War Eagles out to an 8-1 start to the 2022 season. - photo by David Roberts

While South Forsyth could not have started the season much better, Brennan Hudson could not have started it any better.

Hudson belted a pair of home runs in his first two at-bats Feb. 18 during a 12-2 victory against North Atlanta. It's a win that sparked an eight-game winning streak to open the season, and a win that also gave the War Eagles a chance to show how dangerous they can be in 2022.

"It was really wonderful, but it's kind of good and bad at the same time, because you can never really beat that as the season continues," Hudson said. "You just hope for that same success and try to keep it continuing the best you can."

The War Eagles have tried their best to sustain that success early in the season. One week after Hudson shined in the season opener, Britton Rellinger's turn came against Bartram Trail [Fla.]. 

Brooks Bennett tied the game 2-2 with RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning, then after a couple of scoreless innings, Rellinger blasted a walk-off home run in the eighth to break the tie and give the War Eagles a 3-2 win. 

Rellinger played sparingly last season but has settled into a full-time role with the War Eagles this season. Through nine games, he is sporting a .384 batting average with two homers and four doubles.

"It feels pretty good. I'm just excited to play for these guys," Rellinger said. "Like Ryan [Becker] said, the chemistry we have is what makes this team pretty special. We're not individually the most talented team ever, but I think our chemistry and our will to play for each other is what's got us this far."

Becker has done little worth forgetting this season — he is currently batting .600 with two homers, two doubles and 14 RBIs — though not dwelling on previous at-bats is precisely what has led to so much success.

"Just take one at-bat at a time," Becker said. "Just flush out the last one and see how the pitcher is working. We've been getting a lot of people on base in front of me, so they've been getting a little flustered more often."

Becker led the War Eagles with nine home runs last season during their march to the Class 7A Sweet Sixteen. He's also been a force on the mound this season, giving up just one earned run and striking out 14 batters across 6 2/3 innings.

South's seniors — Becker, Hudson, Rellinger, Bennett, Dylan Quintilio, Dylan Carter, Trey Tully and Ian Barnett — entered the 2022 season eager to prove last year was no fluke.

"Last year was really, really big just because we had so many seniors," Hudson said. "So, I feel like more people looked at us having a big senior class is why we were so good, instead of everybody as a whole. It's good to see our success carry over and show them that it wasn't just a fluke with all the seniors that we had last year."

Much like Rellinger, Carter has also carved out a full-time position on this year's team and has already driven in five runs on the year.

"It's been great," Carter said. "Last year I was blessed to watch a great senior class and I was able to take in everything that they were doing well, so I just try to translate that over to this year."

The expectations are high this year. Not only do the War Eagles have an experienced senior class, but sophomores Tyler Bayer and Bayler Duncan, plus junior Alex Urias, give South's lineup some depth. 

After last year's Region 6-7A race came down to the very last day of the regular season, South knows every region game matters.

The War Eagles [8-1] will open region play at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Lambert, another Region 6-7A contender.

"I think the main two would definitely be a region championship, which is always high up there especially with how competitive the region is every year, and a state championship is obviously the pushing factor," Hudson said. "That's the one that we always want to go after and try to compete for."