Anything can happen once a softball team enters the state playoffs.
A pitcher can dominate a game, a hitter can get a hot bat and a team can play error-free defense against an opponent. And that’s what the coaches at Glynn Academy and Brunswick High are emphasizing to the girls entering the Class 6A playoffs on Thursday.
Glynn Academy, 8-11, is a No. 4 seed, who will face Lee County, 15-12, riding a five-game winning streak. The best-of-three series will begin with a double header Thursday at Lee County, with a third game scheduled Friday if the teams split the first two games.
Knights coach Jim Horton said he believes the two teams match up well. The key to winning will be for his players to execute well defensively and offensively.
“That’s some of the things we want to do,” he said.
Horton said his players are healthy going into the playoffs.
“We should be full-speed ahead,” he said.
Winning the series would advance the team to the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
“It just shows we’re getting to where we want to go,” he said of the opportunity. “It’s huge for us. It’s big for the program.”
Thursday’s games will be played at 5 and 7 p.m. in Leesburg. Friday’s game, if necessary, begins at 5 p.m.
Brunswick, 7-17, is a No. 3 seed going into the playoffs. The Pirates will play a double-header Thursday against Coffee County, 13-11, in Douglas. A tiebreaker is scheduled 5 p.m. Friday in Douglas, if necessary.
Pirates coach Brian Crawford said his team is capable of winning the series and advancing to the next round of playoffs.
“I think we do match up talent wise,” he said. “We have put together solid games at times this year.”
The challenge in the playoffs is the deeper the team goes, the tougher the competition, where pivotal moments often determine the outcome.
“Any championship team gets a stretch of luck,” he said. “Anything can happen.”
But it takes more than a few breaks to go deep into the playoffs. The team must play fundamental softball, show patience at the plate and good defense on the field.
“Our players need patience against high-caliber pitching,” he said.
Several players are nursing injuries, but the entire roster will be available for the games against Coffee County, Crawford said.
Pitcher Carrie Rowell is nursing a sore shoulder, but she should be ready to start one of the games Thursday, Crawford said. It’s uncertain how long she will pitch, but he said the break in the schedule over the weekend has helped her recover.
“I think the break helps out,” he said.
If Rowell can’t go the distance, other players will be ready to step in, he said.
“We’ve got a good pitching staff, where we’ve got support,” he said. “They’ll be available and ready to go.”