Finishing the regular season ranked fifth in the state makes for a pretty good season.
But for the Alcovy softball team, the goal is to have more than a good season.
The Tigers (22-4-1, 5-1 Region 2-AAAAAA) are one win away from a state playoff appearance after earning a bye in the first round of the region tournament at Gerald Matthews Park in Hampton this week.
The tournament was originally slated to begin Tuesday before inclement weather pushed it back to today.
Lovejoy and Newton begin the tournament on Field 1 at 2 p.m., while Rockdale and Druid Hills face off at the same time on Field 2. Alcovy will play the winner of Druid Hills and Rockdale at 4 p.m., after finishing second overall in the region.
Luella, which defeated Alcovy 2-0 on Sept. 24 to earn the No. 1 seed, face the winner of Newton and Lovejoy on Field 1 at 4 p.m. The four teams in the semifinals will earn a berth to the state playoffs, which begin Oct. 10.
Alcovy lost to Whitewater in a best-of-three state playoff game last season (8-5, 2-3 and 1-3), and came within a win of the region championship in 2009, falling to Ola. The Tigers have never won a region tournament and are hoping to do so this year, a season in which they had an eight game winning streak, and two more of four straight.
"The goal is to win the region tournament," Alcovy coach Monica Marks said. "That's what the girls are focused on. We just have to play well."
Since the Tigers' only region loss a little over a week ago, Marks said they have been refocused preparing for advancement in the region and state tournaments. Alcovy finished the season, following the loss to Luella, with a 15-0 win over Druid Hills on Sept. 25 and a 7-0 victory over Jones County on Wednesday.
"We came out flat against Luella," Marks said. "Not to make excuses, but the girls came out flat in that game. Hopefully losing that game made us focus a little more, it kind of refocused our team."
Alcovy will get to face all teams in the region tournament it has already seen earlier in the year, and all in victories with the exception of Luella. Those circumstances are both an advantage and a disadvantage to the Tigers.
With each team having already played each other, they already know the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. The same holds true for Druid Hills or Rockdale, who will see Alcovy today. To combat that, Marks said the Tigers will have to just continue to play at their best.
"Like any other game, I think we have to focus on scoring runs, our pitchers on pitching well and our defense being solid," Marks said. "I think we control our own faith if we play well."
If the Tigers play well against Rockdale or Druid Hills, they will face the winner of Luella and Lovejoy/Newton at 6 p.m. today. The double-elimination tournament concludes Thursday at 4 p.m., with a 6 p.m. game if necessary.
"We need to make sure we're ready to play," Marks said. "Any team can beat any team at any time."
A big factor in one-game playoffs is the quality of pitching, and for Alcovy, Marks feels she has two quality starters who can compete with any other team's pitching in Chelsea Murphy and Kalia Johnson.
"I think both of our pitchers have pitched great all year," Marks said. "I'm pleased overall, they've done a great job. We just need to make sure we score runs."
To do so, Alcovy will look toward several players. But leading the way this season has been Chelsea Murphy, driving in the Tigers' most RBI's, with Johnson and Lakeiyah Sorrells setting the table.
"Sometimes it's a different person in a different game," Marks said. "We know that we control our own destiny by how we play. If we play well we should do well in the tournament."