The Evans High School softball team endured two seasons as the unwelcome guest in Region 7-AAAAA, so it's only fitting that the Lady Knights made their region opponents pay for their lack of hospitality.
Evans secured the top seed for the Region 7-AAAAA tournament, and lived up to that billing by sweeping two games and capturing the region title last week at Brown Mill Park in Lithonia.
"The girls played well and came through when they needed to," Evans coach Colette Cassedy said.
The Lady Knights posted a pair of 6-0 victories over Lithonia and Lakeside DeKalb on Tuesday to earn their first fastpitch title since 1999.
Evans pitcher Meredith Weare went the distance in both wins, allowing just four hits while tossing two shutouts.
Evans' softball team won the Region 7-AAAAA title by winning two games in the region tournament in Atlanta Tuesday. They will now play in the North Sectionals.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Lady Knights applied the pressure right off the bat, striking for four runs in the first inning of each game. Lauren O'Brien and Rebecca Prior recorded two hits apiece to spark the opening victory. In the championship clincher, Marquita Grimes (3 for 3), Sheena Blackwell (2 for 2), Ashley Brodhecker (2 for 3) and Abby Donnelly (a hit and two RBIs) did the damage at the plate for Evans.
The two-game sweep capped the Lady Knights' short stay in Region 7-AAAAA. Evans entered the region last year, and that's when the bad feelings cropped up.
The move to the new region was made to alleviate travel woes for Evans, which had previously competed in Region 4-AAAAA. The switch also meant the Lady Knights would not have to play a full-region softball schedule in 2002.
When Evans was awarded the top seed for the region tournament last year, it didn't sit well with the other Region 7-AAAAA squads.
"We were the No. 1 seed last year, and there was a lot of controversy because we didn't play a full (region) schedule," Cassedy said. "We were kind of ridiculed by our region. It wasn't a good situation."
The Lady Knights lost the region title game last year to Lakeside-DeKalb, which fueled speculation that Evans wasn't deserving of the top seed.
This season, though, Evans played every region team, and finished the regular season with a 7-1 region record. The Lady Knights earned the No. 1 seed fair and square, but there was still something to prove last week in Lithonia.
"There was a lot of pressure being the No. 1 seed again, and this year we were kind of nervous about that," Cassedy said. "I was probably more uptight than the girls were."
Evans responded to the pressure and brought home a trophy as the newly crowned Region 7-AAAAA champions.
"We did pretty good," Cassedy said.
The Lady Knights now advance to the Class AAAAA North Sectionals at Hobgood Park in Woodstock. Evans will compete during the Friday and Saturday action to secure a berth in the Class AAAAA state finals in Columbus.
But, according to Cassedy, there's no extra pressure to qualify for a trip to Columbus. "I tell our girls to approach every game the same," she said. "Play it like it's for a state championship."
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