However, Cartersville coach Stuart Chester notes that the two teams aren't far apart at all when discounting his team's past history.
"As far as playoffs are concerned, their players they've got one series under their belts and we've only got a couple of guys with playoff experience, so the experience is almost dead-even," he said. "[It's] just that we've had our program a little bit longer. Sometimes that can be to your advantage [and] sometimes [a] disadvantage 'cause they go into it loosey-goosey and don't know what to expect and turn it loose, and that can be dangerous."
The Warhawks, who host Wednesday's best-of-three series with the Canes, swept Westover last Friday, winning both games by a combined score of 18-4 -- including a 12-2 victory in Game 1.
Likewise, Cartersville handled its business with a first-round sweep, defeating Oconee County 11-2 and 10-0. The Canes connected for four home runs, including two from Zach Ross, who went 3 for 8 with five RBIs. As a team, they had 19 hits, led by a 6-for-9 effort from Michael Goss, who had three doubles, a home run and an RBI.
Chester would love a similar performance from his offense but knows his players have to be ready as soon as they exit the bus.
"We gotta be mentally prepared. You know, it's a long trip," he said of the nearly three-hour drive to Kathleen, which is just outside of Warner Robins. "[It's] a non-typical day to play 'cause we're gonna have to travel part of the day. It's gonna get us kind of out of our going-to-school-and-coming-out-here-and-playing routine, which the playoffs does that.
"[We're] gonna have to be able to score some runs. They got two very good pitchers," Chester continued, referencing Warhawks pitchers Dylan Spires and sidearmer Lyndon Meadows. "[We're] getting prepared for a one-run ballgame, two-run-ballgame."
Last week's starters for Cartersville, Kendall Hawkins and Tyler Will, combined to throw 12 innings with two earned runs, seven hits and eight strikeouts. Both pitchers carried a no-hitter through the first few innings of each game, and Will earned a Game 2 shutout.
Chester expects his pitchers to deliver as they have all season and to limit the number of bases on balls.
"You just gotta go in there and pitch like we've pitched ... locate where Asa [Williams] sets up and, you know, have command of all of our pitches. ... You can't rely just on fastballs, you gotta have command of all your pitches," he said. "At this point and time in the playoffs you can't give up any extra outs and you sure can't go down there and put people on base, so [we have to] throw strikes and have a good approach at the plate [on offense]."
Though he'd like to spare his team from a third game that would be played Thursday -- "In any series it'd be nice to win the first two and you save pitchers' arms" -- the Canes coach is having his team take the gradual approach.
"We gotta go down there and take care of one game at a time and see what happens," Chester added.
Cartersville has practiced quite a bit since its first-round sweep, but it isn't the same as the atmosphere it'll see on Wednesday.
"[We got to] scrimmage a little bit, see a sidearm guy and then a lefty guy, back to back, but it's hard to simulate what you're actually seeing in the game," Chester acknowledged. "You can't."
The Canes (22-5) and Warhawks (20-8) play a doubleheader Wednesday at 4 p.m., and if they split both games, a third game would be played Thursday at 4 p.m.