Another region championship went to the Greenbrier softball team this past week at Patriots Park. However, the Lady Wolfpack didn't corner the market on big performances during the two-day tournament.
The Lakeside Lady Panthers, led by head coach Jay Matthews, entered the Region 3-AAAA Tournament last Saturday as a No. 3 seed. On paper, Lakeside was an underdog in its first round match-up against No. 2 seed Wayne County, but the Lady Panthers earned a 4-0 shutout win.
After a second round loss to the eventual region champs, Lakeside, facing elimination, made a loud statement with a 15-0 win over third-seeded Ware County. The win guaranteed the Lady Panthers a spot in the state sectionals and advanced them to the final day of the region tournament.
"Our girls knew coming into today that we were in a good situation," Matthews said on Wednesday. "Every win meant a better seed in the state playoffs."
The Lady Panthers again faced elimination in their first game on Wednesday but shut out top-seeded Effingham County 3-0 to guarantee at least a No. 3 seed in the state sectionals. In their second game of the day, Lakeside earned its biggest win of the season - a 2-1 victory over Evans to advance to the region finals and clinch at least the No. 2 seed.
"We're notorious for not playing well in those types of games," Matthews said. "It's good to see the girls play well."
Sophomore pitcher Kaitlin Hill, after shutting out Effingham County, limited Evans to only five hits in a complete game victory. In three full games on Wednesday, including a 3-0 loss to Greenbrier in the championship game, Hill didn't allow a single earned run.
"To be honest, I didn't think she would last that long," Matthews said. "I kept checking with her and talking to her after every inning, and she said she wanted to keep going. She was lights out all day long."
Lakeside's win over Evans knocked the Lady Knights, a No. 2 seed entering the region tournament, down to third place. After two wins to start the tournament last weekend, Evans dropped both games on Wednesday.
"We're disappointed in the way we played. We just didn't get hits when we needed them," Evans senior Sarah Shepherd said.
"We'll have our heads back in it for the state playoffs."
Evans came out of the region tournament as the No. 3 seed for the Class AAAA state south sectionals, which will be played in Hampton, Ga. on Oct. 20-21.
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