Woodstock was eliminated from the Region 5AAAAAA tournament and had its hopes of a state playoff berth dashed with an 8-5 loss to Milton in Saturday’s second-round game.
The Lady Wolverines, who beat Wheeler 9-1 in the first round, finished the season with a 14-15 record and will be the only team in the county to miss out on a winning season.
River Ridge fared better, as it beat Pickens 4-2 in the second round of the Region 7AAAA tournament, following a first-round bye that came by finishing first in its subregion.
The Lady Knights, who were 8-0 in region play, need only one more win to advance to the semifinals, which would guarantee them a spot at state. To do that, River Ridge will have to get past Heritage-Catoosa, which is ranked second in the state, in the semifinals of the winners’ bracket.
River Ridge coach Scott Bradley feels that for the Lady Knights to defeat Heritage, their offense will have to improve from its win over Pickens.
“Defensively, we were fine against Pickens, but hitting-wise, we haven’t been swinging very well, so our batting will have to get better to beat Heritage,” Bradley said. “If we manage to put the ball in play, and our defense and pitching keeps playing well, I think we’ll be OK.”
Even if River Ridge down lose, it will still have a chance to win the region, as the tournament is double-elimination.
In the Region 5AAAAAA tournament, top-seeded Etowah and second-seeded Cherokee have already secured a spot in the semifinals, and with it state playoff berths.
For Etowah coach Victoria Brown, entering the region tournament as the top seed means little if the Lady Eagles don’t finish the tournament the same way.
“It’s nice going in as No. 1, but we want to come out as No. 1,” said Brown, who is in her first year as the Etowah coach. “Last year, we were in the same position, and we won the region, so our girls know that we can do it. That should give them an extra bit of confidence and determination to do it again.”
The Lady Eagles, who are ranked sixth in the state, will take on fourth-seeded Milton on Monday, with a win sending them to the finals.
Cherokee, which has won its last six games, enters the region tournament on a hot streak. Their semifinal game will see them take on third-seeded Lassiter, which is also ranked third in the state.
Lassiter will no doubt be out for revenge, as it was the Lady Warriors who, earlier this season, handed the then-No. 1 Lady Trojans their first loss of the season in extra innings.
“(Lassiter) will be coming after us,” said Cherokee coach Tonya Carlisle, whose team assured itself of a state playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season. “They may feel that they should have won our first meeting, so they’ll definitely be motivated to win.
For Carlisle, the Lady Warriors’ motivation to win the region comes from the realization that where they finish in the region will greatly affect how they are seeded for the state playoffs.
“I keep telling my girls how important seeding is in the state tourney, which is why we need to win this game,” Carlisle said. “Other than that, we are not going to look at the last game we played against (Lassiter). We are going to focus in ourselves.”
After it seemed that Creekview would not be playing for the Region 7AAAAA title due to crucial loss to Pope late in its region schedule, it was helped out by archrival Sequoyah, which defeated Kell in its final game of the season. That in turn gave the Lady Grizzlies the second seed and a shot at the region title.
Creekview will travel to Pope on Wednesday to begin a best-of-three series for the region championship. A doubleheader will be played Wednesday, with the potential tiebreaker to be played Thursday if needed.
For Creekview coach Chance Cain, playing Pope means his players can not only win region, but they can do it against a team that beat them at home 3-0 less than two weeks ago.
“When someone comes into your park and beats you, you definitely have a little bit of revenge on the mind when you play them again,” Cain said. “The girls are excited they get to play Pope. They would like a little payback.”
For the rest of the teams in Region 7AAAAA, a tournament will take place at Al Bishop Park in Marietta, with the top two teams granted the region’s third and fourth seeds for the state playoffs. Sequoyah will enter the tournament as the third seed and will be one of the favorites to advance to state.