Ringgold head softball coach Shane Pendley doesn't deny being under pressure in his first year on the job.
Of course he was, taking over a team that's been to the state playoffs four of the past five last seasons and were runners-up in 2012.
However, Pendley said his team has made it past “the humps” and is “in it to win it” regarding the upcoming Georgia Class AAA State Tournament in Columbus.
"When you take the job at a winning program and everyone is telling you about Columbus and what kind of players you have it's kind of hard in the beginning,” he said. “We've tried not to focus on the past this year and I think we've got really close through the season.”
The Tigers have also gotten better. The Blue-and-White, which finished runners-up in the region tournament, swept host Jackson County, 11-2 and 5-4, on Wednesday in the second round of the Georgia Class AAA State Playoffs to advance to the Elite 8.
Pendley said qualifying for Columbus was something he didn't take for granted and had to thank his assistant coaches Daniel Hackett and Laura Geddie for their hard work. He said he's also looking forward to playing on Thursday against Tatnall County.
“We're playing pretty good ball, he said. “We seemed to have weathered some of the middle of the season difficulties. We had that big let down in the region tournament, but we bounced back. I think we're playing as good as we've played all year.”
Pendley said Jackson County had a good team, but his team played well.
" We played spectacular defense, had good pitching from both pitchers and our bats were good,” he said.
Pendley said he didn't know a lot about Tatnall County. However, he said he was happy with the Tigers bracket and overall pleased with his team's chances of winning a state tournament.
“If we go down there and play like we're capable of I think we have just as good of a chance to win the state as anybody," he said.
Kaitie Cain was the winning pitcher in game one, while Abby Mckinney was the winning pitcher in game two.
Highlights from game one included a home run by McKinney and a triple from Aimie Davidson. McKinney finished the game 3-for-5, Davidson was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Kiwi Dale was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs and Reagan Benedict was 3-for-4.
Kaylee Womack had a big day for the Lady Tigers in game two by going 3-for-5 with a triple and the game-winning RBI and McKinney had a double.