Pitching key for Chattanooga area softball teams

Pitching key for Chattanooga area softball teams

October 25th, 2012 by Lindsey Young in Sportspreps

Northwest Whitfield softball pitcher Emily Boyd is one of the top-quality pitchers from Northwest Georgia in the GHSA state softball tournament that begins today.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

GHSA Softball Elite Eight

Today's Schedule in Columbus

Class AAAA

Northwest Whitfield vs. Rutland, 4:15

Northwest/Rutland winner vs. Wayne Co./Madison Co., winner, 7:45

Class AAA

Ringgold vs. Pike County, 2:30

Ringgold/Pike Co., winner vs. Central, Carroll/Blessed Trinity winner, 7:45

Class AA

Dade County vs. Harlem, 2:30

Dade Co./Harlem winner vs. Jeff Davis/Bremen winner, 7:45

Class A

Gordon Lee vs. Baconton Charter, 11 a.m.

Gordon Lee/Baconton Charter winner vs. Schley Co./Ga. Military winner, 6

TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - The pitching circle may have been moved back and the bats are livelier than ever, but if you want to win a Georgia state softball championship, you still need a dominant pitcher.

It doesn't hurt to have a little experience in the circle, either. The four teams representing the northwest Georgia area in the all-classification GHSA Elite Eight Championships in Columbus today through Saturday are prime examples that pitching still rules. Each of the four has a senior ace capable of shutting down any lineup.

Combined, the foursome of Northwest Whitfield's Emily Boyd, Gordon Lee's Kalei Kimbrell, Ringgold's Brittany Portwood and Dade County's Madison Gossett have a record of 84-15 this season and have struck out over 800 batters.

"You want that experience in the circle," said Northwest Whitfield coach Jason Brooker, whose team is 31-3 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA. "I know we're spoiled with Emily since we've been watching her for four years, but I can't imagine playing without her right now."

Of the four, though, only Kimbrell has a state ring and she got her two as the team's No. 2 pitcher behind Brenna Nation. Portwood's Lady Tigers made a run to a third-place finish last season and Gossett's Lady Wolverines made a surprise visit to Columbus two years ago and reached the quarterfinals.

Boyd, the future Ole Miss Rebel, led the Lady Bruins to a quarterfinal run in her freshman season and made the field last year in the state's second-highest classification. She likely speaks for the other three when she says this last shot at a title is weighing heavily on her mind.

"I would mean a lot since it's been in the back of my mind and it's been showing up in my dreams, even when I'm sitting at school I think about it," said Boyd, who has allowed just 68 hits in 165 innings this year. "I know we have the potential _ and we've had the potential all four years to win it all _ so it's kind of taunting me, laughing at me.

"So, yes, it would mean a lot to win it all."