COVINGTON, Ga. — Three area schools, including two Newton County schools will be participating in the Georgia High School Association state softball playoffs.
By virtue of receiving the No. 2 seed as Region 4-AAAA runners up, the Eastside Eagles (19-8, 6-1) will host Columbus in best-of-3 series to open the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs Wednesday with games one and two being played on the same day, starting at 5 p.m. with the if-game slated for Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Lady Eagles settled for the second seed after losing twice to region champion Hampton in the region tournament this past week. Hampton pitcher Skylar Trahan turned in a tremendous performance, giving up just one run in a total 17 innings of softball, including a 20-strikeout performance in 10 innings during the two team’s first region tourney matchup.
Eastside coach Heather Wood took the pair of setbacks in stride, within the context that facing Trahan may have been one of the best things that could’ve happened to the Eagles as they prepare for another Columbus run.
“We did not make adjustments and she hit her spots,” Wood said. “She has an excellent rise ball and screwball and we just had a hard time, especially in that first game even putting the ball in play and putting pressure on defense. I think (pitcher) Kailey (Rusk) put us in position to win both of those games, and I think the defense was solid. But we just couldn’t get any production in the lineup.
“But what I told my girls is that’s the kind of pitching they’re gonna see in Columbus. She’s probably the best 4-A pitcher there is right now. So as much as it would be nice to have that No. 1 seed, that series really did prepare us for the playoffs. It’ll make us better hitters.”
It’s the first time in three years Eastside hasn’t won its region, but adding Hampton’s rigor to the slate gave Wood’s squad a chance it didn’t have in those previous years.
“Our region tournaments didn’t prepare us for much of anything the last couple of times,” she said. “But with these games against Hampton, with the pitching we saw and the situations we were in, yes it would’ve been nice for us to host a four seed, but I think our girls will look back and be grateful that we had this experience.”
Meanwhile Newton (15-9, 6-4) drew the third seed out of Region 8-AAAAAAA and will travel to Region 5-AAAAAAA No. 2 seed South Forsyth, also on Tuesday at 5 and 7 p.m. It’s the Lady Rams’ second straight Class AAAAAAA state tournament appearance and first since the return of coach Virginia Tucker-Smith.
The Rams clinched that third seed with impressive wins of 8-0 and 9-3 of Shiloh, and in South Forsyth (10-14, 6-4) they’ll face a team that sort of limped to the regular season finish line as it lost its last five games.
Social Circle (12-9, 5-1) drew the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AA after winning its region title, and will host Callaway. Day and time for first pitch has yet to be determined.
We’ll provide more information on game times as it becomes available, as well as full coverage of state playoff games at covnews.com.