As the season crosses the halfway point, the three local softball teams - Alcovy, Eastside and Newton - are hoping to make a run at the postseason.
Entering Thursday, the trio had a record of 28 wins and 15 losses, combining for a .651 winning percentage. At this time last year, they were even 22-22 (.500).
After falling to Dacula in extra innings (eight) on Wednesday, 2-1, the Lady Tigers are 7-5 overall and still searching for their first Region 8-AAAA, Sub-Region B win (0-4).
But they have already exceeded expectations, as they were 2-18 overall last year, and Alcovy head coach Casey Bates is excited.
"We are playing hard and really good right now," remarked Bates. "The ball is just not falling our way in the end. The girls are heartbroken after (the) loss and that shows they are maturing and expecting to win, rather than hoping to win. That is a key component to being successful in the wins and losses column."
Against the Lady Falcons, Alcovy's Amber Melton and Dallas Hardin led the way with two hits apiece, recording four of the combined five hits.
"Hardin is pitching really well and we are playing pretty good defense behind her," said Bates. "We make errors like other teams do, but our goal is to limit those errors per inning. (However), we are struggling at the plate as a team.
"Some younger kids are getting their chance to step up," added Bates, "and some are doing just that."
Alcovy will next host Salem at 5 p.m. on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles (11-4, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-Region B) seemed to have left off where they finished last season (33-7, 11-1). Entering Thursday, Eastside was ranked ninth in the state among Class AAAA schools and second in region.
"Our defense and pitching has been solid throughout the season," said Eastside head coach Heather Wood.
Earlier this year, Eastside finished third in both the Diamond Bracket of a South Gwinnett Tournament and during the Cherokee Invitational (Gold Division).
The Lady Eagles are led by six seniors this year - Brandi Richards, Laura Rodriguez, Rikki Powers, Katie Herren, Sabrina Chandler and Brittany Harper - and each has been contributing to the team.
The pitching staff, which has dominated all season long, includes Richards, Powers and Amanda Henderson. Overall, the Lady Eagles have outscored opponents 81-17.
"We are starting to gel together as a team," admitted Wood. "Our goal for this season (is) to advance to the state tournament in Columbus."
Eastside will host Winder-Barrow at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday.
As of Thursday, the Lady Rams (10-6, 3-2 Region 2-AAAAA) were ranked third in their region. After starting off the season 8-1, they have since cooled, having won just two of their last seven games.
Nevertheless, Newton head coach Jason Lachappelle and his squad will be aiming to finish the season on a strong note for a shot at the playoffs.
The Lady Rams have outscored their opponents 94-61, relying more on their offense rather than defense. Newton has scored in double digit figures four times this season (10, 12, 20 and 19).
In addition, the Lady Rams are averaging nearly six runs per game, which is the highest among all three local squads.
Newton will next travel to Griffin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.