East Hall’s softball program wants to know what it feels like to play in the championship weekend in Columbus. However, first thing’s first.
The 2018 postseason for the three-time defending Region 7-3A champion Lady Vikings (18-9) opens against Coahulla Creek with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. today in a best-of-three, first-round series in Gainesville. If needed, Game 3 will be played Saturday, also at East Hall Park.
To make it to the eight-team field in Columbus, East Hall will need to win in the first two rounds of state, which is where the season ended in 2016 and 2017 for the Lady Vikings.
“It feels the same as the other two years,” East Hall coach Josh Joiner said. “I would like to make it through the playoffs this time.”
The anchor for East Hall pitching is junior pitcher Macy Banks, who has a 17-3 record in 2018 with 112 strikeouts and 129 1/3 innings pitched.
According to Joiner, Coahulla Creek is not an easy out as a No. 4 seed.
“It is going to be a tough, the team we are playing this week is a good team that came out of a really good region we are expecting a really hard fight,” Joiner said. “They have a good pitcher, they play really hard and they play solid defense. With everything I heard, they are not a typical four seed.”
Joiner has confidence in his team to perform well in the state playoffs base off what he has seen in his team this season. There has been multiple Lady Vikings that have stepped up to the occasion when the team needed them the most.
“We have had different people step up for us at different parts of the season,” Joiner said. “This season has not really ride or die with just one person. We have a pitcher that has been really good for us the past two years. There have been games where she has not had her best games and we would have people step up and pick up the slack. It has been one of those years were everybody has been pulling their own weight. If somebody slips up, someone is there to pick them up. I am proud of that.”
Banks hopes that mentality will help East Hall get over that second-round hump so they can keep reaching more milestones.
“Winning region was just one milestone even though we won region we still have many other things we have to accomplish before this season is over,” Banks said.
Winning East Hall’s first state championship in softball would be a milestone the Lady Vikings would love to accomplish. The Lady Vikings have set themselves up well for a shot at Columbus with the first two rounds of the playoffs guaranteed to be in Gainesville.
“I want to win state very bad,” Banks said. “It would mean a lot not only have we not made it to Columbus we have never won a state championship. In the past, people did not think we were good, but (if we win state) they would respect us and they would know we are a good team because we won state.”