The message scrawled on the bulletin board inside the Greenbrier High School softball team's dugout seems simple enough.
It says, "Do you want to win? Then get out there today and pay the price!"
Meagan Borum doesn't take those word lightly.
"We always have to work hard and not take any team for granted," she said. "Everyone on this team works really hard. I've seen it at practice every day, working hard as a team, not as individual players."
During a short interview at practice last week, Borum mentioned hard work at least a dozen times.
The constant reference is more mind-set than mantra, and for good reason - paying the price has put the Lady Pack on the brink of fastpitch perfection this season.
Dedication at practice and domination on the diamond both have been standards for Greenbrier in 2002. While the squad has won six straight region titles, something special is brewing this year at the Brierpatch.
With one regular season game remaining (Monday at Eastside High School), the Lady Wolfpack stands with a 25-2 record.
In those 27 games, Greenbrier has outscored its opponents 151-6, with only two of the runs allowed being earned. En route to a perfect 10-0 mark in Region (Area) 3-AAAA play, the Lady Pack has posted 10 shutouts.
"We've always had a good team, but I think this is the best chemistry we've ever had," right fielder Katie Sutherland said. "This team has bonded more than any other I've been on. We're all like sisters."
Greenbrier's losses were by 1-0 scores against Class AAAAAA prep powers Lowndes and Brookwood.
"I've never experienced anything like this before," Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said. "Our pitching and our defense have been unbelievable. It's kind of scary."
Greenbrier's opponents must be shaking in their spikes.
The Lady Pack sophomore pitching duo of Kristan Glover and Jenni Massingale have combined for seven no-hitters (Glover worked two on her own). In 107 innings of work, Glover has struck out 373 batters, while Massingale has fanned 58 in 53 innings pitched.
Laura Tracy and Kristen Motlow teamed with Massingale on a one-hit shutout, Glover and Massingale each added one-hit outings and shared the mound on another.
Greenbrier has backed up its pitchers with great glove-work, posting a .957 fielding percentage as a team.
"Our defense has been really good," Sutherland said. "If the other team does hit our pitchers, we have the defense to back it up."
At the plate, the Lady Pack is batting a collective .321. Of the players with more than 50 at-bats, Sutherland (.416), Nikki Smith (.364), Amanda Glover (.300), Brittany Leverett (.321), and Courtney McCladdie (.303) all are hitting better than .300.
Sutherland leads the way in RBI (27), home runs (three) and triples (three), and McCladdie has set the table at the leadoff position.
"In Courtney, we have something this year we haven't had in the past, and that's a leadoff hitter with speed," Black said of the freshman center fielder.
Greenbrier has only three seniors - Sutherland, Borum and Smith - but the young players have sharply-honed skills from playing fastpitch year-round on travel teams.
Along with talent, the underclassmen also have desire.
"I think they want it as much as the seniors do," Smith said. "They're going to do their best, and the seniors will do our best, and we'll accomplish all of our goals."
First off, Greenbrier is focused on the Region 3-AAAA tournament, which begins Saturday at Diamond Lakes Regional Softball Complex.
"Our No. 1 priority is the region. That's the only thing we care about right now," Black said. "Winning region is very important for seeding purposes, because in the first round of sectionals, our region matches up with Columbus, and they have a strong region year-in and year-out."
With a string of six region titles, Greenbrier has established a strong softball tradition, but in three trips to the state finals in Columbus, the Lady Pack is 0-6.
That's one tradition the players plan on changing in 2002.
"We're all really anxious and excited about getting back to region. We want to get through that, go to state and start winning games," Smith said. "This year, everyone has it in their head that if we can get to Columbus and win the first game, we'll go all the way. There's an intensity on our team that we just can't hold back any longer."
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