They're making room in the trophy cases and staking out prime spots to hang the championship banners - Columbia County high school squads plan to haul in some hardware in postseason action, which begins this week in several fall sports.
For the Evans volleyball and softball teams, Region 7-AAAAA tournament play will be a proving ground. Because the Lady Knights did not play a region schedule in either sport this season, the squads will be stepping into unknown territory.
Evans athletic director Gail Connor senses good things on the horizon.
"The volleyball team's doing well, the softball team is doing really well," Connor said. "Hopefully we can get some region championships."
Without a region record, Evans had to be seeded at a region volleyball meeting last week. The Lady Knights earned a No. 4 seed for the nine-team, double-elimination tournament, which begins Saturday at Tri-Cities.
There was a hitch in the fastpitch proceedings, though. The Region 7-AAAAA secretary proposed a four-team region tournament, but other schools in the region didn't like that idea - only four teams advance to the state playoffs.
"We're still debating the softball issue," Connor said. "It's a mess."
Now it looksas if there will be a full-region event, with Evans beginning play Monday (opponent TBA). The Lady Knights played only one region team this season, and posted a 5-0 win over Redan, which is considered one of the stronger squads in the region.
It's a big week for the Augusta Christian and Augusta Prep cross country teams, which square off Monday at Prep in the Region 4-AAA meet, and then make a run to Macon for Saturday's Georgia Independent Schools Association state championships.
The Prep boys are defending region and state champions, and are paced this year by senior Ashwin Rajendra. The Lady Lions won the region crown last season, and are led by Sarah Madebach, who captured region and state titles in 2001.
Augusta Prep coach Mike Burley thinks the Lady Cavs and Lady Lions are the class of the GISA this year, and will duel for region and state honors.
"We have really high hopes for state," Burley said. "Augusta Christian and Augusta Prep are the two top teams. It's going to be exciting."
The Augusta Prep soccer team begins the GISA state playoffs at home with a first-round game Thursday, while the Lady Cavaliers will vie for a state volleyball title in tournament play Tuesday and Thursday in Marietta.
Volleyball teams from Lakeside, Greenbrier and Harlem begin play in their respective region tournaments on Saturday.
In softball, the Harlem Lady Bulldogs are gunning for a second straight Region 3-AAA title. The Lady Dogs play host to the double-elimination tournament, and open with a first-round game Thursday against Washington County.
"It's (winning region) going to be a technicality, I think. The girls don't expect anything less," Harlem softball coach Melissa Chase said. "Everything's working, there are no weak points. We're just waiting to get into the (state) sectionals and see where we stand."
Meanwhile, the Lakeside and Greenbrier softball teams began the Region 3-AAAA tournament this weekend. The double-elimination event continues Tuesday at Diamond Lakes Regional Complex, with the championship game set for Wednesday.
"We're all really anxious and excited to get back to region," said Nikki Smith, the Lady Wolfpack's senior third baseman. "There's an intensity on our team that we just can't hold back any longer."
Following a 27-2 regular season, the top-seeded Lady Wolfpack is gunning for a seventh region title in a row, while the Lady Panthers took the diamond as the No. 2 seed.
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