Coach Glen Crawford said the Lady Eagles took a new credo to Columbus as they compete for a national title.
“We feel we have as good a chance as anybody, so we are saying, ‘Why not us?’” he said.
While Crawford wouldn’t go as far as to guarantee a title, as New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously did prior to Super Bowl II, he did say his players will “match up pretty well” with the other teams.
“We have the pitching. We have the hitting. We have the defense,” Crawford said. “Like I said before, we are going into it asking, ‘Why not us?’”
The World Series will feature a 10-team double-elimination tournament, which begins today and continues through next Thursday. The tournament will be played at the South Commons Softball Complex, the same site that hosts the Georgia High School Association’s championship games each year.
No. 7 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and No. 10 College of Idaho will kick off the World Series at 10 a.m. today, the first of four games to be played. Four more games will follow Saturday and Monday.
The tournament winds down from there with three games scheduled for Tuesday, two Wednesday and only the championship on the final day.
LSU Alexandria is the No. 1 seed and the tournament’s only newcomer. As the top seed, the Lady Generals have a bye through the first round and won’t play until Saturday against the winner of today’s 2 p.m. game between No. 8 Oklahoma City and No. 9 Simpson (Calif.).
Reinhardt won’t have to wait long to take the field today, as the fifth-seeded Lady Eagles will face No. 4 St. Gregory’s (Okla.) at 4 p.m. The day will wrap up with No. 3 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) and No. 6 William Carey (Miss.).
No. 2 Auburn Montgomery is the other team with a bye and will face the winner of the Lindsey Wilson-College of Idaho game.
While not the closest school to the World Series venue — the Auburn Montgomery campus is about 70 miles closer to Columbus than Waleska is — Crawford still feels his team has a bit of a home-field advantage. Not only are some of the Lady Eagles’ players returning to the World Series for a second time, but even more of them played at the complex while compete for titles in high school.
“A lot of these girls know the fields and know the area,” Crawford said. “They know how everything runs. The great thing is that you have fans and friends and family that can drive the hour-and-a-half down and see a game and go back home. It’s really exciting that we get to play in front of those people and aren’t too far away from home.”
C.J. Browder, from Memphis, Tenn., is the only Reinhardt player not from Georgia.
The Lady Eagles made the bus trip to Columbus on Wednesday and were able to get in a couple of practices in. Other teams — such as those traveling from California or Oklahoma — had a bit more rust to shake off.
“We didn’t have to travel two or three days on the bus and have to figure out what is around,” Crawford said. “We know where we are staying, what’s around and how long it would take to get here. Knowing your surroundings makes it easier on the coach — I don’t know about the players, but easier on the coach — because you don’t have to do a whole lot.”
As far as competition is concerned, Reinhardt will continue to rely on former Creekview High School standout Madison Luck in the circle. Supporting Luck in the field and at the plate will be familiar faces of Browder, Katie Rietkovich, Randi Wimpy, Kendall Hahn and fellow Creekview product Alexis Chumbler.
“We are a confident relaxed,” Crawford said in describing the team’s mood. “The great thing about this team is, when it’s time to step out on the field and we need turn it up a notch, they will do it.”