Coach Chance Cain said the bus was set to depart campus around noon today, and the players will get a practice in at the South Commons Softball Complex tonight before resting up for their first game against Northgate on Thursday at 4:15 p.m.
Creekview (25-9), which reached the final eight of the state playoffs for the first time since 2010, couldn’t be more excited.
Double-elimination play in Columbus comes after two rounds of best-of-three series. Creekview needed three games to get past Woodland-Bartow before sweeping Apalachee to advance.
“We got in a good round of practice (Tuesday),” said Cain, who was an assistant to former coach Mike Nayman when the Lady Grizzlies last visited Columbus. “We went over a few things, but I think they are ready to go.”
There are a few holdovers — Cynda Tate, Ashley Chumbler and Tiffany Jordan — from the last time the Lady Grizzlies competed for a state title. The trio, now seniors, were a part of the varsity team as freshmen.
“They have a little bit of a taste of what it is all about, but it’s pretty fresh for everyone else,” Cain said.
The winner of the Creekview-Northgate game will play again Thursday at 7:15 p.m. against the winner of another game between Effingham County and Loganville. Should Creekview lose, it would face the loser of the Effingham-Loganville game Friday at 11 a.m.
Cain said what makes this portion of the tournament challenging is the format.
At most tournaments, there is a portion of pool play that allows a team to warm up. However, in this case, the warmup rounds were essentially the first two rounds of the state playoffs, which concluded a week ago.
“In this case, the very first game counts, so we have to be ready to play,” Cain said. “We’ve got everybody healthy at the postseason and we are good to go.”
Gracie Dorr, who has pitched will in the playoffs, will likely get the ball for the Lady Grizzlies, although Cain doesn’t feel like he’s limited to just using Dorr in the circle. Ashley Walraven and Casee Disharoon have also been staples in pitching rotation, while Bethany Hyde has also made four appearances.
At the plate, Creekview has seldom struggled. Averaging more than six runs per game, every player in the lineup has contributed at some point or another. In fact, that’s one of the team’s greatest strengths.
“We are really well-rounded,” Cain said. “We are able to manufacture runs when we have to. We can get hits and move someone over. Steal a base or something so we aren’t just leaning on one aspect or another.”
Teams will begin getting eliminated Friday, before a championship is crowned Saturday afternoon.
The other teams in the final eight are Ola, Pope, Houston County and Winder-Barrow. Aside from Pope, which Creekview faced once in Region 7AAAAA play, Cain admits he doesn’t know much about the competition.
“They are all good if they made it this far,” he said. “At this point, it’s about making the plays that are there, and hopefully you can make a few plays that you wouldn’t make, and the breaks kind of go your way. I think every team is going to hit the ball. It’s just making the defensive plays.”
Creekview is hoping to bring a title back to Cherokee County for the first time since 2006, when Woodstock and Sequoyah both won championships in separate classifications.
“If we make plays and keep our heads down,” Cain said, “we will be fine.”