Columbia County high school softball aficionados not affiliated with Greenbrier or Harlem will have a tough decision to make Wednesday.
With GHSA state playoff games scheduled the same day across the board, those wanting to see a terrific team in action will have to choose between the two. Either is a good choice. The Lady Wolfpack will be at home for the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs facing Ola and the Lady Bulldogs will play host to Bleckley County in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Both entered the state tournaments as a No. 1 seed. Mike Leverett and his Lady Bulldogs won the school’s first region crown while Garrett Black won his 16th region title in 17 years. Both play at home until they lose or the tournament shifts to a neutral site.
While in different classes, the Lady Wolfpack (27-6) and Lady Bulldogs (26-7) are eerily similar. Both coaches and players have said they feel like they are tough to beat at home. That is how it has played out throughout the year and into the postseason.
Offensively, both have speed and power throughout their lineups and pitchers who can dominate the opposition.
The biggest difference between the two is the makeup of the squads. Taylor Thompson is the only senior on the Lady Wolfpack while the Lady Bulldogs start six seniors.
It is a freshman, however, who has been a major force driving the Lady Bulldogs through its postseason run. Amber Garrett (14-4) has allowed just one run (unearned) in 25 innings of work, including a five-inning no-hitter in game one of the region final. She has the support of a rock-solid defense behind her, but her talent is undeniable. Kristin Rawlins (12-3) also has been tough on the mound, giving opponents fits with her left-handed delivery.
Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs get contributions up and down the lineup, with Lindsey Stokes unquestionably the anchor. In the region tournament, she had a game with two home runs and seven RBI – in one inning. In Wednesday’s state opener, she singled home the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh and added a two-run single in game two that extended the team’s lead to 4-0.
Sophomore Kirsten Titus (19-4) is the Lady Wolfpack’s No. 1 pitcher but Julie Underwood (8-2) isn’t far behind.
Both can record a crucial strikeout or just throw strikes and let the defense work behind them.
With the talent that the teams have coming back and the infusion of players from respective middle schools, both should prove hard to beat in the next few years.