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Lady Indians begin quest for state title
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1028ClermontAud3 Emily Harper

Clermont City Council candidate Emily Harper discusses her plans for office.
DAHLONEGA — Lumpkin County High softball coach Lori Hall stacked the deck to get to this point. So the fact that the Lady Indians (17-13-1) enter this weekend’s Class AAA North Sectionals as the No. 1 seed isn’t a surprise to either their second-year coach or players.

The Lady Indians played a tough regular season schedule, seeing top competition, with tournament appearances at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Madison County. And while Lumpkin County didn’t finish first against top-ranked competition from all classifications, it was a pulse-check for the Region 7-AAA schedule and beyond.

It worked.

"That was our goal this season, to play good teams," Hall said. "Now we have to be ready to play our best against the best teams in the state."

Lumpkin County won its first Region 7-AAA championship in its seventh year playing fast-pitch softball last weekend against West Hall, 10-0, at the Lanier Point Softball Complex. As a result, the Lady Indians have the advantage of playing No. 4-seeded Chamblee (10-13) at 4 p.m. today at the same site of their region title.

"We’re just all ready to play," Lumpkin County junior infielder Emily Gaddis said. "We’ve all worked hard this season to get to this point."

The Region 7-AAA runner-up Lady Spartans enter the state sectionals as the No. 2 seed and play No. 3-seeded Riverwood at 6 p.m. tonight. No. 3-seeded White County faces No. 2-seeded Westminster at 6 p.m. tonight.

The format of the state sectionals is the top four teams from each region (16 teams total) play in a double-elimination two-day tournament. The top four teams qualify for the state finals in Columbus.

This is Lumpkin County’s third trip to the state sectionals. And the Lady Indians are hoping for better results than last season’s two-and-out appearance.

"I would be disappointed if we didn’t make it to Columbus," Lady Indians senior pitcher/outfielder Jade Butler said. "We know all the teams that make it that far have great talent."

Lumpkin County’s advantage with the No. 1 seed is drawing the lowest seed from Region 5-AAA to qualify for the sectionals. Beyond the first round, the importance of seeding diminishes.

"We really don’t care who we play," Hall said. "If we bring our best game, the opposition is just another team on the field."

One of the reasons for Lumpkin County’s success this season is a balanced offensive attack.

Chelsey Edelberg lead the Lady Indians with a .468 batting average, 33 RBIs, seven doubles and seven home runs. She is also tied for the team high in runs (22). She is second on the team with 44 hits.

Gaddis is leading Lumpkin County with 45 hits, and is hitting .417 with 10 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

And it also doesn’t hurt that the Lady Indians all get along.

"Everything is running smooth with our team," Butler said. "Girls will be girls, and we all have a good attitude."

In Class AA’s North sectionals, No. 2 ranked Buford (26-6-1) enters the tournament as a No. 2 seed after losing the Region 6-AA championship game on Oct. 11 to Greater Atlanta Christian, 1-0. In the opening game of the sectionals the Lady Wolves face No. 3 seed Morgan County at 4 p.m. today at Alto Park in Rome.

Buford is always a favorite to make it to Columbus after advancing to the state finals the past two seasons.

In Class A’s North sectionals, the Region 8-A champion Jefferson begins play against No. 4 seed Excel Christian at 6 p.m. tonight at Alto Park in Rome. The Lady Dragons have won the Region 8-A championship each of the last three seasons.

Jefferson enters the state tournament playing well winning its last five in a row. The Lady Dragons’ only losses in classification this season were to Commerce and Providence Christian.

Jefferson senior pitcher K.T. Tolbert finished the season as the Region 8-A Player of the Year.

No. 3 seed Commerce faces No. 2 Trion at 4 p.m also at Alto Park in Rome.

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