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Posted: October 16, 2012 8:33 p.m.

Tigers, Panthers meet in playoffs

Alcovy is in the midst of a successful and unprecedented softball playoff run heading into today's second-round matchup against Hillgrove, but will go up against a more difficult challenge.

The Tigers have never reached the second round, and now find themselves just two wins away from a spot in the state finals in Columbus.

After earning the No. 1 seed by winning the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament, Alcovy (27-4-1) defeated Westlake, resoundingly 18-2 and 21-1 to await the winner of a second- and third-seed matchup.

Hillgrove out of Region 4-AAAAAA came away with the road win, 3-2 and 5-3 over No. 2 seed Lowndes, earning the trip to Alcovy.

The Hawks (26-8) earned the third seed, in part with seven straight victories to end the season, including a pivotal 4-0 win over North Cobb on Oct. 5. Hillgrove lost to the Warriors 1-0 on Sept. 6.

The only other region teams Hillgrove lost to were East Coweta, Kennesaw Mountain and South Cobb.
Hillgrove and Alcovy have never met on the softball team, setting up a matchup of two unknowns.

"They're a very good team," Alcovy coach Monica Marks said. "They come out of a very competitive region. We're going to have to be ready to play."

The Panthers are averaging 6.6 runs per game, and allowing 2.3, after shutting out 10 opponents this season.
"They have pretty good pitching and good defense," Marks said.

Alcovy also brings strong pitching to the second-round matchup, with Chelsea Murphy and Kalia Johnson taking to the circle. The Tigers (27-4-1) have 12 shutouts, including one in the South Gwinnett Tournament and another in the Georgia Diamond Club Tournament.

The Tigers won the South Gwinnett Tournament and lost the first game of their season, 5-4 to Colquitt County as the only defeat of the Georgia Diamond Club Tournament. Marks said her team's success during the regular season tournaments, along with winning the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament helped prepare the Tigers for the postseason.

"This next round is going to be very competitive," Marks said. "One of the reasons we played tournaments is to play tough competition and the other is to be ready for the postseason."

That preparedness was evident in round one when the Tigers' bats exploded for 31 runs in just seven innings. While the opposing pitching will be more of a challenge against Hillgrove, Alcovy will still try to bring its offensive prowess to the plate.

"We're going to be going up against better pitching have to get runners on and clutch hits," Marks said. "Our defense has got to be solid and our pitching has got to be solid.

"That's pretty much why we've been successful all year."

A victory in the best-of-three series over Hillgrove will put Alcovy in the state finals in Columbus, but thanks in part to the leadership of six seniors, the Tigers are not looking past Hillgrove.

"We just try to stay focused on the next round," Marks said. "We know they're going to be a good team and we can't look ahead. We have to focus on playing Hillgrove."


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