Three local teams stand two wins away from a trip to Columbus and the state softball championships, but first they have to get the victories in series starting today.
Today, Calhoun gets a home best-of-three series against Lovett in the Class AA playoffs, Rockmart hits the road to play Dodge County in the Class AAA playoffs, and Darlington travels to Pace Academy in the Class A private school playoffs.
All three of these squads have had success when they’ve reached Columbus in the past. Last season, Darlington finished fourth overall in Columbus, while both Calhoun and Rockmart grabbed runner-up finishes in Class AA in previous years.
Darlington travels to Pace to play two games today with the first starting at 4 p.m. The Tigers played Pace Academy last year in Columbus, beating them 7-4 in the first round.
“We played them last year in Columbus. Traditionally, they are well coached, have a solid defense and a very solid softball team,” Darlington coach Kent Harrison says.
“We’ve just got to rise to the occasion.”
The Tigers had originally thought they might be playing host to this game, but a last-second change in the Class A private school power rankings, bumped them from No. 8 to No. 9, forcing the road game.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get to host, but the way we finished in the region tournament caused that issue,” Harrison says. “We have our seven seniors, and they have gone on the road and won a plyoff series in the past. We’re going to rely on their leadership.”
Harrison says he and the Tigers want another shot in Columbus.
“It’s still an awesome experience to be in the state playoffs. I’m sure there are dozens of schools who would love to trade places with us,” Harrison says. “Columbus is the ultimate goal if you want to a win a state championship, and we know what we have to do to get there.”
The second game of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 6 p.m. today and the third game, if necessary, will be played Thursday at 5 p.m. at Pace.
Calhoun (27-6) has been a regular in the state playoffs the past few years, but the Jackets are searching for their first berth in Columbus since 2008.
The Jackets swept through the regular season schedule posting a perfect record in Region 7-AA play and won the Region 7-AA tournament. Calhoun won the tournament last year as well but untimely injuries derailed them on the way to Columbus.
Dade County, which finished as runner-up to Calhoun in the region tournament last season, won the 2012 Class AA crown.
Today, the Jackets face off against Region 6-AA Lovett (14-15-1) with a trip to Columbus on the line. The first game is set to start at 5 p.m.
Calhoun advanced to today’s game by besting Temple last week in two games. Lovett had to go to three games to advance past Union County.
Rockmart travels to Dodge County for their playoff series. The Yellow Jackets advanced to the second round by downing Jackson in two games.
Dodge, the Region 3-AAA champion, knocked off Appling County in two games last week.
Jim Alred is New Media Director for News Publishing Company.