The challenges get quite a bit tougher for northwest Georgia softball teams in today’s second round of the GHSA state tournament. After going a perfect 7-for-7 in advancing past the first round, six of the seven teams face ranked squads in the round that will determine the Elite Eight fields in Columbus.
Top-ranked Gordon Lee welcomes ninth-ranked Mount Pisgah in Class A, third-ranked Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe hosts unranked Greater Atlanta Christian in Class AA and second-ranked Heritage hosts fourth-ranked Walnut Grove in Class AAA. For Heritage, it’s an earlier-than-expected meeting with a team ranked as high as second most of the season.
“They were upset in the region tournament and slipped to a three seed,” Heritage coach Steve Chattin said. “They’re really a mirror image of ourselves. They’re a second-year program with two or three speed kids, a couple with some power and a pitcher who won 25 of their 30 games. We’ve been able to shut most people down this year, but we expect we’ll have to score more in this round and execute when we have to.”
As is the case with each of the brackets, the north half is loaded with ranked teams. Eight of the top 10 in Class AAA are on the north side, and seven of the top 10 are from the north in classes A, AA and AAAA.
GHSA softball second round
(Best-of-three series; doubleheaders today)
Mount Pisgah (22-9) at Gordon Lee (32-0), 2
Greater Atlanta Christian (21-13) at Lakeview-F.O. (31-1), 5
Dade County (24-12) at Buford (26-4), 5
Calhoun (24-10) at North Oconee (28-8-1), 4
Walnut Grove (30-7) at Heritage (29-4), 5
Ringgold (19-13) at LaGrange (22-6), 4:30
Northwest Whitfield (20-11) at Madison County (30-3), 5
“We have eight on our side of the bracket, and only four get to go to Columbus, so this is the big round,” Chattin said. “Some good teams are going to be left home, including one of the two from our series. We just hope it’s not us.”
Gordon Lee, at 32-0, is the only undefeated team left in Georgia, and though the record is a sense of pride with the players, it’s not something they dwell on, according to coach Dana Mull.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, especially when you consider some of the teams we’ve played this year,” said Mull, whose team has beaten Heritage and LFO, among others. “We’ve played as tough a schedule as we could to prepare for this time of the year. They take great pride in it, but it’s not something they talk about a lot.”
In Mount Pisgah (22-9), the Lady Trojans face a dangerous team bolstered by the addition of senior transfer Sandy Almon, an infielder better known for basketball but who has hit eight home runs in the two weeks she’s played.
“They’re a quality team and she’s a real good player,” Mull said. “We’re ready, I think, for the challenge.”
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...