River Ridge, the lone team to claim a region championship, will join Cherokee, Etowah, Woodstock, Sequoyah and Creekview in the postseason as the teams vie for spots at the state finals in Columbus at the end of the month.
First- and second-round playoff series will feature a best-of-three format. The higher seed will host two games today with a third game, if necessary, played Thursday. Second-round contests are scheduled for Oct. 19-20.
River Ridge (18-10), which is making its first state playoff appearance in team history, captured the Region 7AA title after rallying from a 4-0 seventh inning deficit to defeat Dade County 5-4 in eight innings. The Lady Knights will host North Oconee (23-9) today at 5:30 p.m.
“We lost 4-0 in the first game against Dade County, so to not put a run on the board after 13 innings wasn’t like us,” said River Ridge coach Scott Bradley, whose team recently achieved its first state ranking at No. 7 in the Class AA coaches poll. “But to look in the dugout and see everybody on the fence cheering was just incredible. That day, our girls never gave up, and they battled to the end, and it paid off.”
The Lady Knights’ opponent is not the typical No. 4 seed. One of four teams from Region 8AA with 20 or more victories, North Oconee won two games in Columbus last year and has reached the state playoffs six consecutive seasons. The Lady Titans were the 2006 Class AA state champions.
“We’re extremely excited and can’t wait to get started,” Bradley said. “North Oconee offers some matchup problems that may challenge us and give us problems, and they have a history in the playoffs that we don’t have. They graduated eight seniors, so they’re young and scrappy, but our kids and coaches are excited to play a team of their caliber and history.”
Etowah (22-9) claimed the No. 2 seed from Region 5AAAAA after falling to Lassiter in the region championship series. The Lady Eagles, who are making their third straight state playoff appearance, will host Region 6AAAAA No. 3 Alpharetta (12-12) in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m.
Cherokee, which has won two region championships in the last four years, is making its seventh straight state playoff appearance. The Lady Warriors (15-13), who have dropped five of their last eight, but beat Woodstock for the No. 3 seed from Region 5AAAAA, will visit Region 6AAAAA No. 2 North Forsyth (15-9) for its series.
Woodstock won the Class AAAAA state championship in 2006, but will be making just its first postseason appearance since 2007. The Lady Wolverines (11-22-1), who are the No. 4 seed from Region 5AAAAA, will visit Region 6AAAAA champion Milton (20-7) for a 5:30 p.m. doubleheader.
“The girls are playing well,” Woodstock coach Kortney Dempsey said. “If we can get the runs across the plate that we get on base, we’ll be fine. We’re looking to do big things if we play the way we’re capable of playing, like we did at the beginning of the season when we won six of our first nine games. Getting the (playoff) berth was the first part that we hope will set the standard for the years to come.”
Creekview (18-12), which won three straight region titles from 2008-10, made its fourth straight region championship game this season. But the Lady Grizzlies had to settle for the No. 2 seed after falling to Northwest Whitfield in three games for the Region 7AAAA title.
Creekview, which is making its fifth postseason showing in six years, will host Region 8AAAA No. 3 Habersham Central (22-11) in the first round. Habersham is one of four teams from its region with 20 or more victories this year.
Sequoyah, the No. 4 seed from Region 7AAAA, will complete the county’s 6-for-6 postseason showing with its 18th postseason trip in 19 years. The Lady Chiefs (14-13), who have won seven of their last nine games after a 7-11 start, will travel to take on Region 8AAAA champion Loganville (20-10), the state’s fifth-ranked team.
“I’m really pleased with the way we’re playing right now,” Sequoyah coach Todd Morrissey said. “I preach all year long every year that we want to be playing our best ball at the end of the season. If we can’t win the region, then at least we’re in the show.
“There are no bad teams left. That’s why it’s the playoffs. You have to play your best at this time of the year.”