Prep Softball: Playoffs arrive for county lineupsBy DOUG GORMAN
Northgate, East Coweta and Newnan’s softball teams are all on the same mission.
Get through this week’s region tournaments and get ready for the double-elimination state tournament.
For Northgate (21-5), the top of objective is to find a way to get back to Columbus at the Elite 8 and repeat as state champions.
East Coweta (23-3-1), which made it to Columbus last year before getting knocked out of the Elite 8 by Kennesaw Mountain, wants to take it a step further this year.
Newnan (15-11) has faced some tough competition outside the region this year and is hoping to make a strong run through the region and postseason.
Northgate begins its quest to repeat as state champions on Monday with a play-in game at their own field to kickoff the Region 3-AAAAA tournament. Action is expected to begin at 8 p.m. for the Lady Vikings.
The Lady Vikings, Union Grove and Whitewater will all host first-round games before action moves to Lovejoy Park in Clayton County and a double-elimination format on Tuesday.
The Lady Vikings will have to wait out some games early Monday between the region bottom seeds that includes Drew, Creekside and Mt. Zion.
Region 3-AAAAA could be the toughest in the state. Northgate is ranked No.1, but the Lady Vikings are just one of three teams from the region ranked in the Top 10.
“Our region is like playing for state, last year three teams made it to the Elite 8,” Northgate coach Lisa Skelton said. “Our goal is to be one of the four teams to get out the region, make it out of sectionals and win state again.”
Whitewater is ranked second, Union Grove ranked fourth and Ola is ranked fifth.
East Coweta will host the four-team Region 3-AAAAAA tournament with the Lady Indians and Newnan each getting started on Tuesday in the double-elimination event.
This year’s Region tournament will simply be for seeding in the state tournament as only East Coweta, Newnan, Douglas County and Westlake are entered.
The Lady Cougars get started against Douglas County at 4:30 p.m. and East Coweta takes on Westlake. Action continues in the double-elimination event Wednesday.
This year’s tournament championship is expected to come down to a shootout between the Lady Indians and the Lady Cougars. In the finals of last year’s region tournament, East Coweta squeaked by with a 4-3 decision.
East Coweta is on a six-game winning streak as it heads into the postseason. The Lady Indians finished off their Region campaign with a 5-0 record.
“October is always like the second season in softball,” East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach said. “You want to be playing your best this time of year.”
Newnan has also played its best softball of the year lately. Until losing 3-2 to Northgate last week to to close out the regular season, the Lady Cougars had won seven games in a row.
“We are headed in the right direction,” Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore said. “The little things are coming that weren’t always there.”