A full season of knocking off one region opponent after another could all come down to one game for the Harlem High School softball team this week.
The Lady Bulldogs have already breezed through most of the Region 3B-AAA schedule with little problem. Harlem has won every region game they've played so far and boasts a 9-0 record after last Wednesday's 22-2 win over Butler. Only one region game remains on the regular-season schedule: a showdown with Cross Creek at home Tuesday.
The Lady Razorbacks sat only one game behind Harlem entering this weekend's play. A win over Harlem would likely put the Lady Bulldogs in a tie for first place in the region with Cross Creek, and leave a tiebreaker to decide the top seed in the region tournament.
Harlem softball coach Melissa Chase said she'd rather skip the tiebreaker and take care of business Tuesday against Cross Creek. A Harlem win would give the Lady Bulldogs the subregion regular-season championship and a No. 1 seed in the Region 3-AAA Tournament.
"It's a game that's exciting because you know it won't be a blowout," Chase said. "The first time, we beat them 3-1. They have some strong pitchers that can throw pretty hard ... for us, it's our last regular-season home game."
That means one of the more important games of the season will also be senior night at the Lady Bulldogs' softball field. Harlem's three seniors, first baseman Kelley Hamilton, catcher Rachel Oates and utility outfielder Emily Adams, will be honored before Tuesday's game.
Though it will be the final time the seniors will play on the Harlem field, Oates said she hopes she'll be wearing a Lady Bulldog uniform long after the regular season ends. A win over Cross Creek this week would help that cause.
"We're going to have to hit more than we did last time," she said at a practice last Tuesday. "I just realized it was next week and the regular season's over. That's hard to believe, but as long as we keep getting better we'll be fine."
Regardless of the outcome in Tuesday's final regular-season game, the Lady Bulldogs will advance to the Region 3-AAA Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Diamond Lakes in Augusta. Along with Cross Creek, Harlem will have to battle Region 3A-AAA regular-season champ South Effingham (Class AAA No. 1) and six other region teams for one of four bids to the state sectionals.
Harlem's home game against Cross Creek on Tuesday will begin at 5 p.m.
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