Newton opens region softball playoffs today

COVINGTON - The jockeying for positioning is over as the softball region playoffs are set to begin today.

Alcovy, who is the No. 1 seed in Region 4-AAAA, will play against the Griffin-Dutchtown winner today at 6:30 p.m. at Lovejoy Regional Park.

Eastside, who finished second in Region 8-AAA, will play the first round today against Franklin County at Hart County at 5 p.m. The Region 8-AAA tournament resumes Wednesday at Oconee County.

Newton, which is the No. 4 seed in Region 2-AAAAA, will play in its opening round against M.L. King today at 5:30 p.m. at the Turner Lake Complex. If the Lady Rams win, they'll play again Wednesday at Sandy Ridge Park in McDonough.

Win or lose today, the Alcovy Lady Tigers are already guaranteed a trip to the Class AAAA South sectional because of their first-place finish in the regular season.

Of course, winning the tournament would be better because the Lady Tigers would have a higher seed in the sectional.

"Our goal is to be first or second seed at sectionals," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said.

Alcovy's strategy is to do what they've done all along, score at least one run per inning and let pitcher Dallas Hardin keep them in the game.

"We don't have the team to be a big-ball team and score with a home run and get four or five runs in an inning," Bates said. "We're going to play small ball, get a runner to second and let someone drive them in."

Offensively, the Lady Tigers are going to count on Amber Melton and Hardin.

Both batters lead the team with a .384 average while Melton, who is the bats in the No. 3 spot, has 25 RBIs, while Hardin, who is their leadoff batter, has 10.

Eastside will start its quest for a possible region championship against Franklin County, a team it beat 3-0 in the regular season.

One thing that is different about this region tournament is that the Lady Eagles, now ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, are not going in as the No. 1 seed. They are No. 2 behind Oconee County, which is ranked No. 1 in the state.

"We're definitely are going to have to step it up if we're going to be successful in the postseason. We're going to have to increase our intensity and focus; it's probably a good thing for us to be going in second," Eastside coach Heather Wood said. "I think it'll help motivate us a little bit more."

Keeping the Lady Eagles in a position to win every time they step onto the field is junior pitcher Amanda Henderson.

So far this season, Henderson has 231 strikeouts, bettering the old mark of 217 set by Brandi Richards.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Schedule

· Region 2-AAAAA

(at Turner Lake Complex, Covington)

Newton vs. M.L. King, 5:30 p.m.

· Region 4-AAAA

(at Lovejoy Regional Park, Hampton)

Alcovy vs. Dutchtown-Griffin winner, 6:30 p.m.

· Region 8-AAA

(at Hart County H.S., Hartwell)

Eastside vs. Franklin County, 5 p.m.