DALTON, Ga. — If momentum means anything in high school softball, then the Dalton Lady Catamounts are one dangerous team as the GHSA state fastpitch playoffs begin.
Stacy Parker's team entered last week's Region 6-AAAAAA tournament as the fourth seed. It left as the champion after defeating three state-ranked teams, including Harrison twice in the title round.
"It gives them a lot of confidence," said Parker, whose team lost its second game of the tournament to Allatoona before rallying in the losers bracket. "All they've talked about all year is winning region. Harrison had beaten us twice, and they are a really good team. The girls just got pumped up, and it's the best they've played. It's a great time to peak."
GHSA state playoffs, first round
(best-of-three series with DH starts)
Alpharetta (10-13) at Dalton (20-10), 5
Chestatee (9-16) at Heritage (17-6), 5
Ridgeland (17-12) at Marist (23-4), 4
Fannin County (11-15 at Calhoun (22-7), 5
North Hall (13-14) at Sonoraville (22-5), 5
Therrell (8-12) at Chattooga (14-7), 5
White County (15-9) at LaFayette (15-8), 4
Northwest Whitfield (16-11) at Flowery Branch (14-12), 5
Ringgold (15-16) at Lumpkin County (20-7), 3
Dade County (13-12) at Washington, Atlanta (14-5), 4
Dalton (20-10) will host Alpharetta (10-13) in a doubleheader today in the first round. The best-of-three series was moved ahead a day due to the forecast of inclement weather. The GHSA sent out a notice to suggest teams work around the bad weather. All first-round series must be completed by Saturday.
Also moving their series up are Heritage, which hosts Chestatee, and Ridgeland, which travels to Marist, in Class AAAA, while Calhoun and Sonoraville will host today in Class AAA and Chattooga in Class AA. As of Monday night, LaFayette, Northwest Whitfield, Ringgold and Dade County were hoping to play Wednesday. Coahulla Creek is scheduled to start its Class AAA series Friday at 11 a.m.
For Dalton, the road to get back to Columbus and the Elite Eight got a big more comfortable after winning the region's top seed and getting to host two playoff rounds. Parker, who has seven seniors, said the late surge had a lot to do with the Lady Catamounts' pitching.
"Our lineup is pretty stout," he said, "and our hitting has come from everywhere. My senior pitcher, Elly Souther, has blown everybody's expectations away this year. She's just been tremendous down the stretch. Our two sophomores, Emily Brunson and Hope Parker, have pitched well, too. I'm not afraid to put anybody in there against anybody."
The Dalton/Alpharetta winner will await the winner of the Winder-Barrow/Northgate series.
Top-seeded Gordon Lee received a bye in the Class A public first round and will host a second-round series next week. Trion is scheduled to host Wilcox County, but the south Georgia school, which is in the direct path of the storm, is waiting to see if a window opens for travel later in the week.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22.