GHSA Softball: County lineups seeking Elite 8 berths
By DOUG GORMAN
East Coweta, Northgate and Newnan’s softball teams share the same goal.
All three open the second round of the state tournament today in best-of-three series with hopes of advancing to next week’s Elite 8 in Columbus.
If Northgate (27-7) hopes to get back to the Elite 8 and possibly win a second-straight state title, they will have to get past Effingham County (20-14), this year’s Region 3-AAAAA champion. But the No. 2 state-ranked Lady Vikings are the favorites to advance with victories in eight of its last 10 games.
East Coweta (29-3-1) will also be a huge favorite to return to the Elite 8 State Tournament in Columbus coming into today’s second-round Class AAAAAA series against Colquitt County (17-14). The Lady Packers finished third in Region 1-AAAAAA, but knocked off South Cobb in a three-game first-round series on the road last week.
Newnan (19-13) faces the biggest challenge of the three local teams. The Lady Cougars travel to play Kennesaw Mountain (27-3-2), the top-ranked team in Class AAAAAA.
Northgate, which won the Class AAAA title a year ago, has moved up to Class AAAAA this season and comes into the second-round after sweeping Harris County at home last week.
The team’s only losses have come to state-ranked opponents or in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament, where Northgate finished third. Last year’s Lady Vikings placed fourth in the region only to capture an eventual Class AAAA championship.
All four state qualifiers from 4-AAAAA are state ranked, each advancing through the first round. Region champion and No. 1 state ranked Union Grove hosts Houston County, No. 4 Whitewater travels to former region rival Jones County and No. 8-ranked Ola travels to 2-AAAAA champion Greenbrier.
Northgate faces an Effingham lineup that bumped off Evans 8-4 and 4-2 in last week’s first round. In last week’s sweep of Harris County, Northgate had to rally in game one before posting the win.
The Lady Vikings have used two pitchers this season a senior Carleigh Myatt and junior McKenzie Peace have divided their time in the pitching circle.
Northgate has also played some long ball this season with Andie Martin and Jena Pealor hitting home runs during the postseason.
In the first-round last week, the Lady Indians swept Newton 10-2 and 12-0.
East Coweta, which is ranked in fourth in the Class AAAAAA poll, enters the second-round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament on a roll. The Lady Indians haven’t lost a softball game since back in August and are riding a 24-game winning streak.
“We’re getting to the point where we need to be at our best every game,” said East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach following last week’s sweep. “From here on in we’re going to be facing tough opponents. They won’t be anything like [last week]. We’ve got to be ready for that.”
Senior pitcher Megan Chocallo allowed one hit outside the infield dirt in a two-game sweep of Newton last week while getting in about 100 pitches in between a doubleheader sweep that took eight innings to finish.
Timely hitting and fielding have helped East Coweta set its sights on making a run at the team’s first state title.
Colquitt County advanced with its sweep of South Cobb last week. The Lady Packers knocked off the Lady Eagles 5-2 and 7-4 to set up its date with the Lady Indians.
Newnan made short work of Luella in last week’s first-round game, winning 9-0 and 6-2.
The Lady Cougars face a Kennesaw Mountain team that has shutout 16 opponents this season including three in their last four games.
In last week’s first-round sweep of Coffee County, Kennesaw Mountain beat the Lady Trojans 11-0 in the second round.
Newnan made quick work, however, of Luella in what was a confidence booster for the Lady Cougars with a first-round sweep. The team outscored the Lady Lions 15-2 and held a lead through the entire two games of the series while now two victories away from returning to Columbus after a year’s absence.
“That’s what we talked about afterwards,” Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore said following last week’s victories. “We’d like to get back there. That would be special.”
GHSA SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Second Round , Best of Three Series
• Colquitt County (17-14) at No. 4 East Coweta (29-3-1), 4 p.m. (DH)
• Newnan (19-13) at No. 1 Kennesaw Mountain (27-3-2), 5 p.m. (DH)
• No. 2 Northgate (27-7) at Effingham County (20-14), 4:30 p.m. (DH)
Game Three, if necessary, TBA