It was a good week to be a sportswriter.
While covering games throughout the year is a pretty great way to make a living, once the postseason hits, it’s that much more enjoyable.
There’s no tomorrow, and every play or pitch takes on added significance. There’s drama – hopefully – at every turn, the competition level is elevated and you pull for teams to play at the height of their talents.
That’s what I got on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday, the Greenbrier High School girls volleyball team rallied from down 0-2 to Northside, Columbus to win 3-2 and move on to the round of eight in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state volleyball championships.
Wednesday night, the Harlem softball team erased a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring the tying run on a two-out base hit, going on to the 3-2 win in eight innings in Game 1 of their doubleheader against Vidalia.
That propelled them to a 6-1 win in Game 2 and a return trip to the GHSA Class AA State softball tournament beginning Thursday in Columbus, Ga.
That second game also gave coach Mike Leverett his 150th career win at Harlem, one day before his birthday.
When county rivals play each other, I have to maintain neutrality and not play favorites, letting games unfold as they will. That’s true for the most part when Columbia County teams oppose those from Richmond County as the stories run in The Augusta Chronicle.
All bets are off, however, when the postseason hits. I’ll write the stories objectively, but inside I’m rooting for the home teams to win.
After all, I’d much rather write about the thrill of victory than the agony of defeat. Men have enough issues when women cry, let alone teenage girls. I definitely don’t want that drama.
It was looking like the agony story was going to be written for a good while Tuesday night as the Lady Wolfpack were not playing up to their potential. And playing a talented Northside Columbus team magnified that early performance. They had a 10-minute break at the conclusion of the second game and after that something clicked. It could have been something head coach Debbie Born said, or maybe they just relaxed, but it worked.
The Lady Bulldogs have been dominant throughout the season, going 28-6, and easily made their way through the region playoffs and the first round of the state playoffs. Facing Vidalia, they found themselves in a dogfight, needing the late-game heroics. Had they dropped the first game, there’s no telling what would have happpened in the second game. The two games also illustrate why coaches put such emphasis on attaining the home-field/court advantage.
Born said the crowd, with a good representation by the student body, played a role in her team’s comeback and the fans at Harlem were as supportive and rabid as ever.
I’ll be cheering for those teams as they continue down the road, but alas, from afar.