The Lady Tigers earned a trip to the first round of the softball playoffs and will face Tift County in Tifton at 4 p.m. today.
The girls posted an 11-9 overall record and an 8-4 Region 3-AAAAA record, clinching third place.
Should the girls secure a win in game one or two this afternoon, the Lady Tigers will play again tomorrow to see who gets the best of three and may advance to the next round.
Lady Tiger coach Sharyl Eastlake said many players got a taste of the playoffs last season when the squad went to Union Grove in the first round.
"They had so much fun together, socializing together and playing together at state that they were psyched then and they said we are going to back. And here we go back again — it’s exciting," the coach said.
Eastlake said the girls are amped up and don’t seem to mind the scheduled daily practices until game time. She said the players didn’t even complain when she told them they would likely practice over the weekend, too.
"The girls are ready to go on to Columbus," said Eastlake, who expects the Lady Tigers’ run will go to the final round and championship game. "So I know they are ready to go out there and play their best game. They are more ready this year than they were last year. Last year we only had a couple of girls who had been to state before. These girls have been there and they have a taste for it and they want to go every year. So next year they want to be where Jenkins is sitting (in second place) and the year after that, the year we have six seniors on the roster, they want to be where Camden is at right now (first place)."Eastlake said she’s been e-mailing with the Tift County softball coach, who has been helping Bradwell’s team make arrangements for meals. But Eastlake said their opponent remains a mystery.
"I really don’t know much about them. We looked on the GHSA site and we looked at the ga.prepcountry.com site and they played and lost to Valdosta," she said. "We know Valdosta is much like Camden County. And so it’s really hard to tell, just from their stats, how well they’ve done."
Eastlake said Karson Rogers likely will pitch the first round and possibly more.
"I think she can do it," she said. "But we do have Barbara Rego, Kasey Smith and Mareena Conrood if we need them. But Karson has taken us this far, she wants to do it and she is anxious to do it and I really think she can do it. She is a junior and she knows next year is her last year here and she wants to do well, be successful and lead her team to victory."
As for the week of practice leading up to today’s game, the coach said the squad will stick to the same routine.
"Let’s not make any changes now. We’ve been successful with what we’ve been doing all season. So we plan to continue with what we are doing," Eastlake said. "We are doing the same things we’ve been doing all season we are just doing it harder. We are doing it faster, harder and we are more intense. We are hitting the ball to them a little harder and they are doing a little more hitting but no changes. It needs to be a fun experience. Practice needs to be fun, the game needs to be fun and the social experience needs to be fun."