“10/25/18” – That is the date on the back of the Long County Lady Blue Tide softball team T-shirts. It is also the date the double-elimination Georgia high school softball state championship tournament begins.
On Friday, Oct. 12, the Lady Tide got one step closer to playing through that date when they completed the sweep of the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets, the one seed out of Region 3-AAA and the number five team in the state of Georgia.
The Lady Tide came into Friday’s Game 2 having already won the first of the three-game series 9-0 on Tuesday. A win in the early game on Friday would put them in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history while a loss meant they would have to play the third game of the series in a doubleheader. The latter did not happen as the Tide left Brooklet with a 4-3 win over the Yellow Jackets.
The Lady Tide and Yellow Jackets were deadlocked at three going into extra innings and it was some late-game heroics by junior Madison Burkhalter that lifted the Tide to the 4-3 win. She crushed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give her team the win.
Senior Bailey Harrison also found herself trotting the bases in the game, crushing another home run in the victory. Sophomore pitcher Trista Murphy was dynamite on the mound again for the Tide as she pitched a complete nine innings and struck out 11 batters.
Second-year head coach Tyler Chambless seemed to be fired up about his team making history while also avenging their early-season 11-1 loss to the Yellow Jackets. He was also excited about how the team has grown throughout the year and how they did not rely on just one player to lift them to victory.
“It was a total team win,” Chambless said. “All of the girls were behind each other in both games of the series. As far as avenging the loss, I think it shows how much we’ve progressed throughout the season. Everything is starting to click and we’re getting hot at the right time.”
The Lady Tide has certainly gotten “hot at the right time.” The team has won six of their last nine games and are rolling into the Sweet Sixteen. As being the four seed, the Lady Tide will have to travel in the second round.
They await their Sweet Sixteen opponent as it will be the winner of the series between the Pike County Pirates, the two seed out of region 4-AAA, and the Worth County Rams, the three seed out of Region 1-AAA. The Rams knocked out the Tide in the first round last season.
The two teams play on Saturday in a doubleheader with the “if necessary” game of the three-game series on Monday.