D.R. Meadows signs with Columbus State for his final two seasons of college ball

Prior to the start of his first season at South Georgia State, former Toombs County Bulldog D.R. Meadows has already decided where he will spend the final two years of his college career. The sophomore, who played one season at Chipola College where he won a NJCAA National Championship, selected Columbus State (Georgia) as his home for his junior and senior seasons. D,R. Meadows Page

D.R. committed to CSU on November 9th and signed on November 15th.

D.R. Meadows signs with Columbus State
D.R. Meadows (3rd from left) with the other CSU Cougars who signed with 4-year schools
Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field at Columbus State

In addition to Columbus State D.R. visited two to other Division 2 schools which also compete in the Peach Belt Conference- Georgia Southwestern and the University of South Carolina Aikin. Columbus State and Aikin are usually in the mix to win the conference championship each season. “Both of them are pretty good schools when I visited and they are successful with their baseball programs,” Meadows said. “Columbus really sold me when I visited and looked at the facilities and all that good stuff and where it’s at. Obviously, the offer they gave me is the right fit.”

The Cougars congratulate Robert Brooks on his game-tying homer

While D.R. was winning his junior college national championship, back in June, in Grand Junction, Colorado, Columbus State was trying to do the same in Cary, North Carolina. The eighth ranked Cougars won three game. They trounced #24 Mercyhurst  8-1, shutout #22  UC San Diego 6-0 and whipped #3 Florida Southern 11-6. In the finals Columbus took on #11 Augustana and fell behind 2-0 in the fourth inning. Robert Brooks (Wheeler High School in Marietta) tied the game with a two-run homer to left in the fifth and Augustana scored a single run in the sixth to win 3-2. Meadows said winning was also a deciding factor in his decision. “They know what it takes to get to the national championship and I obviously have been there. I would love to get back to that point again in the next couple of years.”

Greg Appleton will be D.R.’s coach at CSU. He is the winningest coach in the history of Columbus State baseball. He will begin his 22nd season with a record of 772-410 at Columbus State. He won a national championship in 2002 and also finished second in 2007. His overall record, including four years at Young Harris is 899-484. Appleton was an assistant coach at the University of Georgia from 1987 to 1992. “He’s a real nice guy. He knows what he is talking about and he has been there for a while,” Meadows said.

There are 11 teams in the Peach Belt Conference including six from the state of Georgia- Georgia College, North Georgia, Augusta, Young Harris, Georgia Southwestern and Columbus State. “I have heard nothing but good things about the Peach Belt. It is one of the best Division 2 leagues in the country. Many of the teams are usually in the top 10 or top 25 in the rankings, so you can’t go wrong there.”

D.R. Meadows awaits a pitch in the NJCAA World Series

Meadows played in 40 games for Chipola and hit .274 with two doubles, 19 runs scored and 12 runs batted in. This fall at South Georgia D.R. hit .414 with five doubles, two triples, 11 runs scored, five runs batted in and five steals. “It was a new experience coming from Florida. All the guys are great on the team and fun to be around. The pitching is a little slower than the pitching in Florida. You just have to adjust to the weather here and the pitching. Meadows showed some power in the fall. “I did hit a home run in an intrasquad game and I have hit the warning track a few times and turned that into extra bases. Maybe one day it will get out of here.”

D.R. Meadows is at first base after his first South Georgia base hit

D.R. played multiple defensive positions in the fall- short, third and left field and he likes to contribute where he is needed. “It allows me to open up the field for players that can only play a couple of positions or one position and it just makes the team better. If I can adjust than they can.”

One of D.R.’s most impressive stats this fall came on defense. His fielding percentage was 1.000 because he did not make an error. The best defensive play he made was at third base. “There was a line drive that was hit at me pretty hard. It was kind of high and I jumped for it and made a pretty good play to end the game. I made some basic routine plays at third. Not anything spectacular.”

Meadows received a big honor at South Georgia. He was named as one of the captains. “It was a big honor. I think he named us a couple of weeks in. I was kind of surprised, but I like the role. Hopefully I can help people as a captain and make sure people are doing what they should do and hopefully they can help me also. On the field I don’t talk much, but if somebody needs help or if I see something is right and they are doing it wrong, I will kind of put my point in there and see what they think about it. If they can adjust to what I think is a better way of doing it.”

Q & A with South Georgia State head coach Jeff Timothy

South Georgia Hawk head coach Jeff Timothy

Jeff Timothy is the head coach at South Georgia. He played his high school ball at Harrison High with Corey Patterson, who was picked third overall in the first round by the Chicago Cubs. Patterson played with eight different Major League teams in his pro career which ended in 2013. He was a .252 lifetime hitter.

Timothy began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Southern Poly Tech in Marietta for one season and then he moved on to Truett McConnell when that school was still a junior college and then down to South Georgia. He has coached 16 seasons overall, the last eight as a head coach. In 2018 Timothy was named the GCAA Coach of the Year. The Hawks finished second in the GCAA with a 22-8 record, two games behind East Georgia. In the GCAA Tournament South Georgia knocked off Gordon and East Georgia before losing to ABAC 5-1 in the championship game. South Georgia finished with a 42-18 record.

What are your thoughts on D.R. Meadows committing to Columbus State?

“I think one of the biggest things D.R. was looking for as far as schools was winning. Obviously, winning is a big thing in his book. He had just transferred from Chipola which had won a national championship. Probably their (Columbus State) biggest selling point for him was they played for the national championship. The kid is a winner and he wants to win.”

You have had the fall to get to know D.R. as a player, what have you learned about him?

“I actually recruited him a little out of high school. Just this little bit of fall which has been two and one half months. He is a big time competitor. I love his work ethic. He came out of high school as a shortstop. He went to Chipola and they moved him to the outfield. He came here and we gave him the opportunity at short and we moved him to third and played him in the outfield. My biggest take on him is he is versatile. We recruit athletes. We recruit baseball players, but the more versatile you are it just opens a lot of doors. It gives you three chances to play versus if he was just a first baseman and that’s all he could play. I think his versatility is one of the biggest assets for him and we are very lucky to have a guy like that.”

D.R, Meadows scoops up the ball in left field with the winning runner breaking to the plate 
D,R. Meadows throws a perfect one-hopper to catcher Alex Webb
Alex Webb sticks the tag on and the game moves to extra innings

Where do you think D.R. will fit in defensively this season?

“I really think it is probably going to be between third and outfield. We have two other guys that play in the infield as well. It’s a good problem. I’ve got three really good players and two spots. Figuring out what is a really good fit, but he (Meadows) is the only one out of those three that can make the transition to the outfield. The other two are just infielders only. It puts him in a better spot than the other two. I have always been told if you can hit, you can figure out a position. He is going to continue to be a good offensive player and we will plug him in where we need to.”

Where did D.R. hit in the lineup during your fall games?

“He fluctuated between leadoff spot all the way to six-hole. Right now (projected) somewhere at the top. Top three, top four. It just kind of depends. We return an All-American at leadoff (Cole Escher who batted .415 with a .524 on base percentage this past season. He scored 75 runs and drove in 36 while stealing 28 bases), but when he struggled I moved D.R. to leadoff and it kind of got him going. I can about hit him anywhere and be comfortable.”

D.R. Meadows makes the most talked about defensive play in the NJCAA World Series

D.R. has always had the knack of making plays others don’t even try. Did he do that this fall?

“One particular play we had switched him in the middle of the game from infield to outfield and he was playing left. The batter hit a double down the line and it is going to get to the wall. Most outfielders are not going to do this, but he dives to knock it down. They had a runner at first and if it hits the wall he should have scored and because D.R. got to it he didn’t. There is kind of a part of you going, I don’t know if he should have done that, but he timed the jump and because he is an infielder he knows how to dive and hop up . So, those instincts in the infield took matters into the outfield. I just went, wow that is impressive. That was just one that really stuck out this fall to us.”

How would you describe D.R. as a teammate and a member of your team?

“The character traits on this guy are just off the charts. This season we went ahead and did our captains. Normally it is guys who have been in my program who are going in to their second year and they have proved their leadership skills. He is one that I immediately thought of even ahead of an All-American that I have had. It’s not that the All-American is a bad kid. It’s just that he is a quiet leader. D.R. will voice his opinion in a way to motivate. I need vocal leaders and I thought he was a great, great fit for that and he has embraced it very well.”

“He’s kind of a firecracker. He gets you going. He might come up with a big hit to lead the inning off, get a rally going or actually get the big hit that you need.”

Based on what you saw this fall what do you think are the prospects for the Hawks in 2019?

“Last year we were 42-18. Had six All-Conference guys and two All-Americans and we bring one back. At the junior college level it is always a 50% turnover rate. This fall I went out and played a lot tougher schedule. We played more four-year schools and other junior colleges. We went 10-3-3. We don’t play extra innings. We had very good winning percentage against good competition. Actually we tied and beat Georgia Southwestern (Division 2-Peach Belt Conference). We beat Emanuel College (NCCAA) twice. We beat Thomas University (NAIA- Sun Conference) two times. I think if we can beat four-year schools we stack up pretty good against our conference.”

“I do want to point out Coach of the Year is a great honor to have, but to be Coach of the Year you have to have good players. I had a lot of good players last year and I feel like I have a lot of good ones this year too.”

Cody Ogilvie deals with a Toombs County Bulldog at first base

Cody Ogilvie was D.R.’s summertime teammate on Johnny Estrada’s GameOn team that won a national championship. He also was a tough pitcher for the Toombs County Bulldogs to hit when he played for Jeff Davis. In a 2017 regular season game, in Hazlehurst, he out-hit the Bulldogs 3-2 and pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts and two walks in an 11-2 Yellow Jacket win. In game two of the Final Four, Ogilvie threw a two-hitter with seven strikeouts and five walks. He did not allow an earned run in the Jacket’s 14-2 five inning victory.

Where is Cody Ogilvie going fit into you starting rotation?

“He is going to be in the rotation somewhere. I don’t know if he is going to be a number one, but he is definitely going to be a good number two or three right now. He has pitched very good for us. He is kind of a guy who maybe doesn’t wow you if you are out there watching it, but at the end of the day you see his stat line and you see a win and your like man that guy pitched pretty good. He doesn’t run it up there at 92 or 93 (miles per hour). I think this fall we had him up to 91. He is a high 80’s guy. He can spin a slider and throw strikes and he isn’t afraid to go after guys which is what we teach and preach.”

Who else is going to lead your pitching staff?

“We have a freshman, Cody Williams from Pierce County (As a junior in the AAA Elite 8 he pitched a complete game allowing six hits while striking out 13 and walking three against GAC. The Spartans coach said he was the best pitcher his team faced in 2017), a right-handed pitcher. He is a decommit from the University of North Carolina. He has an electric arm and electric stuff. Getting him to understand how to use it properly is probably the gap that we have, but it is a very small gap. His ability to adjust from high school to college is getting better as each day goes on.”

Cody Williams checks Jordan Usher at 1st base in a region game in Lyons in 2016

Williams pitched twice against Toombs County in 2016. He was the winning pitcher in an eight inning game in Lyons. He pitched in relief and worked the final 5 ⅓ innings in the Pierce County Bears 4-3 win. He allowed four hits with no earned runs and struck out seven and walked three. He also pitched to two batters and struck them both out in a game in which the Bulldogs struck out 16 times and lost 5-0 in Blackshear.

“We have another freshman Matt Thompson out of Stanton Prep in Florida (Thompson went 5-0 as a junior with 1.89 ERA and 39 strikeouts and six walks in 29.2 innings) He has a really good arm like Cody. We still have a couple of sophomores that return. Alston Knowles a right-handed pitcher out of Charlton County. He won a state championship in high school. Ogilvie has committed to Georgia Southwestern. Knowles has not committed, but he definitely has some offers. Columbus State is one that has a liking to him. I hope he gets that opportunity.”

How did your team do at the plate during the fall?

“Our overall team batting average this fall was over .300. I think the biggest thing last year was we led our conference in hitting and stolen bases. This season I kind of thought we would be more of a power oriented team and not steal as many. We have kind of shown signs of being a doubles team and stealing bases, which I think is even better. We have to replace the middle of the lineup from last year. We definitely have some sophomores who have transferred who have done a good job and we have some really good freshman too. I have a really good coaching staff which really does a good job of evaluating talent and I think we are not going to miss a beat.”

At this time of the year in junior college ball this is a tough question. Who are the teams to beat in the GCAA?

“Out of our league I have only played (fall schedule) East Georgia who was the regular season champ last year. We played ABAC and they have lost some guys probably a little bit more than I have. I haven’t played Georgia Highlands or Gordon or some of those other teams. I thought East Georgia was good. They are very well coached and I think that makes a huge difference at this level. I think every year we can win it. We have proven that with out consistency of making the GCAA playoffs 16 straight years. We have been to a World Series. Us and Gordon (from the GCAA) are the only two to have been to the (NJCAA) World Series in the last 10 years I think. We have been to three super regionals which is more than anybody in the last seven or eight years. I always feel it is us first. There are some good teams, but I haven’t seen enough of them to know.”

SGSC Spring 2019 Baseball Schedule

Date Day         Opponent    Location  Time      # of games
Jan. 26 Saturday Sante Fe Gainesville, Fl 12 noon 2
Jan. 30 Wednesday Tallahassee CC Tallahassee, FL 4pm 1
Feb. 2 Saturday Tallahassee CC Douglas, GA 2pm 2
Feb. 4 Monday Florida St College of Jacksonville Douglas, GA 4pm 1
Feb. 7 Thursday Florida St College of Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL 3pm 1
Feb. 9 Saturday USC Salkahatchie Douglas, GA 2pm 2
Feb. 12 Tuesday USC Salkahatchie Florence, SC 2pm 2
Feb. 15 Friday St. Johns River CC Douglas, GA 3pm 2
Feb. 17 Sunday St. Johns River CC Palatka, FL 1pm 2
Feb. 22 Friday Central FL. CC Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Feb. 25 Monday Thomas Univ. JV Thomasville, GA 3pm 2
Mar. 2 Saturday Tallahassee CC Tallahassee, FL 2pm 1
Mar. 3 Sunday Lake Michigan Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Mar. 5 Tuesday West GA Tech Douglas, GA 3pm 1
Mar. 8 Friday West GA Tech Carrolton, GA 5pm 1
Mar. 9 Saturday West GA Tech Carrolton, GA 1pm 2
Mar. 12 Tuesday East GA State Douglas, GA 3pm 1
Mar. 14 Thursday East GA State Swainsboro, GA 3pm 1
Mar. 16 Saturday East GA State Swainsboro, GA 1pm 2
Mar. 19 Tuesday ABAC Tifton, GA 6pm 1
Mar. 21 Thursday ABAC Douglas, GA 6pm 1
Mar. 23 Saturday ABAC Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Mar. 26 Tuesday GA Highlands Emerson, GA 3pm 1
Mar. 29 Friday GA Highlands Douglas, GA 6pm 1
Mar. 30 Saturday GA Highlands Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Apr. 2 Tuesday Andrew College Cuthbert, GA 6pm 1
Apr. 4 Thursday Andrew College Douglas, GA 6pm 1
Apr. 6 Saturday Andrew College Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Apr. 9 Tuesday Gordon College Douglas, GA 3pm 1
Apr. 12 Friday Gordon College Barnesville, GA 2pm 1
Apr. 13 Saturday Gordon College Barnesville, GA 1pm 2
Apr. 15 Monday West GA Tech Douglas, GA 3pm 1
Apr. 17 Wednesday East GA State Douglas, GA 6pm 1
Apr. 19 Friday ABAC Tifton, GA 3pm 1
Apr. 23 Tuesday Emmanuel College JV Douglas, GA 1pm 2
Apr. 24 Wednesday Inspriation Academy Douglas, GA 2pm 2
Apr. 30 Tuesday GA Highlands Emerson, GA 1
May. 2 Thursday Andrew College Cuthbert, GA 6pm 1
May. 4 Saturday Gordon College Douglas, GA 2pm 1
May. 8-11 TBA Region 17 State Tourney Albany St College, GA TBA TBA
May. 15-17 TBA District Championship Tennessee JUCO TBA TBA
May. 24-June 2 TBA JUCO World Series Grand Junction, CO TBA TBA