The Lady Eagles (43-7), who will open against No. 9 St. Xavier (Ill.) (49-7) at 1 p.m. today, are the only team from Georgia in the tournament. They clinched their spot by winning last week’s Belhaven regional.
Reinhardt hopes to bring a Georgia flair to the 10-team event. With 19 of their 20 players hailing from within the state, the Lady Eagles could easily become a crowd favorite.
Among the Cherokee County natives are senior Brandie DeLay from Woodstock and four players from Creekview — sophomore Haley Brannon and freshmen Jayde Crowe, Audrie Pryor and Alexis Chumbler.
Throughout the season, Reinhardt has relied on the strength of its pitching staff, particularly senior Maddie Monroe. With a 26-2 record and 1.28 ERA, she has been by far the most dominant one on the staff. Also contributing were Kelsey Floyd (9-5, 2.93) and Brannon (8-0, 2.94).
Among the offensive leaders have been Kaley Garmon (.403, 16 doubles, seven home runs, 43 RBIs), Shelby Sinclair (.396, 42 runs), Chumbler (.372, 49 runs, six triples, seven home runs) and Floyd (.362, 38 runs, eight doubles, 11 home runs, 37 RBIs). Brannon has also contributed from the plate with 43 RBIs and 34 runs.
The combination of solid pitching and a strong offense allowed the Lady Eagles to roll over many of their opponents, outscoring teams 338-118 on the season.
The challenge will be whether or not the players can perform in clutch situations. But, if the Belhaven regional was any indication, they should be in good shape.
Monroe pitched consecutive shutouts of LSU-Alexandria and Belhaven, Chumbler connected for a much-needed home run, while Lindsey Booker, Chumbler and Brannon each made key plays in the field.
Reinhardt will need to be prepared for elite competition. Eight of the 10 teams this year are returning from the 2012 national championship.
The winner of today’s game will advance to play against top-seeded Concordia (Calif.) on Saturday at 7 p.m. The loser will play Saturday against either No. 4 Oklahoma City or No. 5 Cal State-San Marcos.