Columbia County schools dominated this year's Region 2-AAAA Softball Tournament, held Wednesday in Statesboro, Ga.
Greenbrier, Evans and Lakeside all played well enough to earn bids to the GHSA AAAA State Tournament.
"Our county's got a lot to be proud of in fastpitch softball," Greenbrier head coach Garrett Black said. "That speaks highly of the coaches in Columbia County."
Greenbrier claimed its usual spot as the tournament champions. The Lady Wolfpack wrapped up their 10th consecutive region title with a 4-0 win over Evans in the championship game. The Lady Wolfpack has taken the region title every year the school has existed.
After an early 1-0 Greenbrier lead, The Lady Knights threatened with a triple off the bat of Maddie Crawford in the fifth inning. Greenbrier right fielder Kayla Thurmond saved at least one run with a diving catch to end the inning. The Lady Wolfpack scored three runs in the next inning to take the 4-0 championship win.
In four games at the tournament, Greenbrier gave up one run.
Despite falling in the finals, Evans' Lady Knights gave a strong region tournament showing, with wins over Wayne County, Lakeside and Effingham County.
The most impressive effort came from Lakeside.
The Lady Panthers entered postseason play in the bottom of the region standings, with an 0-6 region record. In the region tournament, Lakeside upset top-seeded Effingham County 2-1 on the first day, then defeated host team Statesboro 6-0 to earn a bid to the state playoffs.
Evans coach Colette Cassady knew Lakeside had the potential to win.
"Lakeside's record is really deceptive," Cassady said before the tournament. "They're going to surprise some people."
The county's softball success couldn't come at a more perfect time for local fans. This year's state tournament will be held at Diamond Lakes in south Augusta.
"That's another big positive for all of us," Black said. "We get to sleep in our own beds."
The GHSA AAAA State Softball Tournament will begin Friday at 4 p.m. with Greenbrier (28-4) and Lakeside (9-15) playing against teams from Region 1-AAAA. Evans (19-15) will play at 6 p.m.
Harlem finds success
Harlem, the only Columbia County school in Region 3-AAA, also has found success on the softball diamond. The Lady Bulldogs reached the region tournament finals and earned a berth in the GHSA AAA State Tournament.
They did it the hard way.
With an opening-round loss to Jefferson County, the Lady Bulldogs dug themselves into a hole early in the region tournament.
However, Harlem fought its way through the loser's bracket and defeated Thomson, Cross Creek and Hephzibah in one day to claim a bid to the state tournament.
On the region tournament's final day, Harlem defeated Richmond Hill to reach the finals but ran out of gas facing South Effingham in the championship game.
The team's second place finish in the region tournament is an improvement on last season's third place finish.
Harlem (20-8) will begin the opening round of the GHSA AAA State Tournament on Friday at 4 p.m. at Southern Pines in Dublin, Ga.
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