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PREP SOFTBALL: Darlington looking for more from postseason

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Darlington Softball

Kathryne Ledbetter and the Darlington Lady Tigers open the Class A Private state playoffs Thursday against Galloway. (File/Tommy Romanach/RN-T.com)

What the Lady Tigers do after the first pitch will really be the thing that defines who they are and how far they’ve come this season.

After winning seven of its last 10 games, Darlington hosts Galloway in a doubleheader Thursday starting at 2 p.m. at Darlington School in the first round of the playoffs. Coach Matt Larry said they have to go in and control what they can to be able to advance in the best 2-out-of-3 series.

“I think we’re in a good place, even though we felt like we should have been a little higher in the rankings. But that’s something we can’t control,” Larry said.

“We’ve got to win our first two this week and move on from there. We can’t look ahead. I think the mindset is good for the girls. They’re excited, and I think this is something they want really bad.”

The Lady Tigers (12-10) have been fighting in every game this season, with 11 games decided by three runs or less, five of them going Darlington’s way.

“There were a lot of close games that we lost and some we pulled out,” Larry said. “I told the girls that I felt like we were good last year and this year we had a lot of players returning. Our destiny is in our hands. We control it. And if we just do the little things right we’ll be OK.”

Larry became Darlington’s head coach in the middle of last season after an abrupt coaching change and was there to see the team sweep Excel Christian in the opening round of the playoffs. The Lady Tigers were eliminated in the second round after losing back-to-back one-run games to Tattnall Square.

Senior Josi McKibben has been the workhorse for Darlington this season, coming up with both key pitching and hitting while batting clean-up and also serving as a reliable outfielder.

“She’s done an amazing job,” Larry said, adding that several girls are capable of a prime performance when it is needed.

“We look from the top of the lineup to the bottom and feel we can get hits whenever we want to,” he said. “And something we’ve talked about, I feel we haven’t played our best game yet.”

If the teams split their doubleheader Thursday they will play a Game 3 on Saturday.