Lady Canes look to reach second round
After bowing out in the first round of the state tournament a season ago, the Cartersville High softball team has had a goal of surpassing last season’s benchmark and setting a new one in 2013 with a deep run in the state playoffs.
That potential state tournament run starts today at East Hall High as the Lady Canes take on the Lady Vikings at 5 and 7 p.m. in the first round.
“They’re ready and focused, and I’m real proud of that,” head coach Rick Holsomback said. “They’re ready to get after it, and that’s exactly the attitude you want your kids to have. They kind of don’t want to go to school, but we have to.”
East Hall is 15-16 this season and finished second in Region 7-AAA to Buford, the top ranked team in the state.
The Lady Vikings are very similar to the Lady Canes in that each squad is led by a strong junior class. East Hall has four hitters batting between .340 and .400, making navigating through the top of the lineup difficult for Cartersville pitcher Annalyn Yantis.
Senior Natalie Winters is East Hall’s top pitcher and pitches to contact more frequently than Yantis. Winters recorded only 80 strikeouts in nearly 154 innings pitched.
“I’ve never seen the team play and we haven’t played any mutual opponents, so it’s kind of hard to tell,” Holsomback said of what kind of team east Hall is. “I can only go by what MaxPreps puts out there, and based on those stats, they’re a pretty competitive team. Our batting average is a little bit higher and their earned run average is a little bit higher than ours, but you never know.”
Cartersville is 16-11 on the season after finishing third in the Region 5-AAA tournament. The Lady Canes finished second in the region during the regular season by going 11-5.
Holsomback believes his team is ready to move on to the state tournament.
“We practiced hard yesterday and today and we had two really good practices,” Holsomback said Tuesday. “It was intense and the girls responded well. They’re ready to play.”
Wildcats face familiar foe
Matchups in the state tournament are, oftentimes, between teams who do not know each other very well and have little history against one another.
This will not be the case today when the Woodland softball team squares off against an old rival in Creekview during the first round of the state tournament.
The Lady Wildcats played Creekview on Sept. 6, falling to Creekview, 6-4.
“They used to be in our region, so we’re pretty familiar with them,” Woodland head coach Colman Roberts said. “They’re a good team. They have a couple kids who slap. Their catcher is like the Paulding County third baseman. You can’t let her have anything around the plate because she’s going to hurt you.”
Creekview utilizes two pitchers and Roberts believes one will pitch during the 5 p.m. game, while the other will start at 7 p.m.
“We did OK with them,” Roberts said of the first time his players saw Creekview’s pitchers earlier this season. “They don’t throw extremely hard, but they’re good. They’re kind of alike, actually.”
One of the keys for Woodland in the tournament will be the team’s defensive performance. The Lady Wildcats have not been as sound in the field as their coach would like so far in 2013, averaging over two errors per game.
“Defensively, we have to be a lot better than we’ve been,” Roberts said. “When you get to the state playoffs, you can’t give the other team five or six outs an inning and that’s what we’ve done.”
Woodland is 15-15 this season, but it has played a competitive schedule.
“I think they’re prepared. They’ve seen good pitching all year,” Roberts said. “The only thing I try to tell them is we put them through the toughest schedule we’ve ever had here to prepare them for this. So we’ve played teams like them all year.”
As a result, Roberts believes his team will play well today.
“I feel pretty good about tomorrow and I’m usually real nervous. This is it, so we’ll put everything on the line and not hold anything back because there’s no tomorrow,” Roberts said Tuesday. “There’s times this year when we’ve hit one through nine and that’s what we’re going to have to have happen. We just have to be ready to play and be ready to coach.”