Softball season began three-and-a-half weeks ago, but the real games start this week.
Lakeside and Evans open their Region 3B-AAAA schedules today with a rivalry showdown at Lakeside. Both teams have played through a non-region schedule so far, but Wednesday's match-up is the first contest that will count toward the region standings.
The competition couldn't be more even.
"We've got a pretty strong subregion. It's been that way the last few years," Evans softball coach Colette Cassedy said. "I think everybody gets up for these games. It's nice to know you've got local schools who can give you good competition."
Both teams will be well rested by the time the first pitch is thrown at 5 p.m.
The two region rivals enjoyed a break in the schedule during Labor Day weekend. That ensured both of Evans' top pitchers will be ready to throw.
Sophomore Jenny Shephard shut out Cross Creek in a lightning-shortened game Thursday.
Junior Laura Brown threw a complete-game no-hitter and struck out 14 batters in a 6-0 win over Thomson the day before.
Cassedy didn't know for sure which ace she'd throw against Lakeside.
"We don't know who's going to pitch until about five minutes before the game starts," she said. "It'll probably be Laura or Jenny."
There's no question who Lakeside softball coach Christine Gisler will start against Evans. Junior Kaitlin Hill is the team's top hurler and will be well rested for the big showdown.
On a team without a single senior, Gisler said she has high expectations for the junior pitcher.
"Kaitlin has improved in the mental part of pitching where she doesn't show her emotion and doesn't get down as easily. We've worked real hard on that as a pitching staff in general," Gisler said. "The physical part of it - she's got that down. She's real excited about this season. She'll give 100 percent."
Because of an injury, Lakeside was without Hill's pitching in a 9-0 loss to Harlem last week. With more riding on the Evans game, Gisler said she expects Hill to be back in the pitcher's circle on Wednesday.
"She has a pulled muscle in her arm right now," Gisler said. "It's nothing big. She'll be back, and she'll be starting Wednesday."
Last year, Lakeside knocked off Evans in the Region 3-AAAA Tournament semifinals. The Lady Panthers finished second in the region tournament, while Evans came in third.
Lakeside will enter the game with a 3-3 record while Evans stands at 6-3.
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