State softball playoffs
White County at St. Pius X, 2 p.m.
Dade County at Buford, 4 p.m.
Rockmart at Union County, 4 p.m.
How much: $5
CLEVELAND — Heading into today’s match-up with St. Pius X in the second round of the Class AAA state tournament, the White County Lady Warriors plan to use the three things that led them to a first-round sweep of Carrollton: strong pitching, solid hitting and temporary tattoos.
The first two, pitching and hitting, are always necessary for a competitive softball team to do well, but it is the last that reveals what kind of team White County really is.
Before each game, the Lady Warriors pick a temporary tattoo from a pile and place it on their arms. The ritual helps keep the team focused on playing as a team and creates a sense of camaraderie. The ritual seems to have paid off: White County defeated Carrollton 7-0 and 24-0 in the first round after placing second in Region 8-AAA.
Even coach John Brown participates, albeit reluctantly according to pitcher Stephanie Satterfield.
“It was hard to get him to wear one,” Satterfield said. “And he still won’t wear anything with skulls in it.”
Temporary tattoos aside, the pitching combination of Satterfield and Callie McDonald has proved to be the other ritual that has led White County to success. The two are the only pitchers to see time in the circle this season for White County (24-6).
Satterfield, a senior, and McDonald, a junior, have combined to throw 171 innings this season and have a combined earned run average of 1.19.
While neither pitcher is exactly sure of their record when asked (Satterfield is 12-3 and McDonald is 11-3), the two are confident that whoever takes the circle today will add a win to their season.
“I think that we should win,” McDonald said. “I know that we can if we play like we are capable of playing.”
Not only are Satterfield and McDonald the team leaders in the circle, the duo also produces at the plate.
Lead-off hitter Satterfield leads White County in home runs (11), RBIs (42) and batting average (.494). McDonald, who bats fourth, is tied for the team lead in doubles with eight and is second only to Satterfield in RBIs with 28.
While Brown isn’t sure who will step into the circle for Game 1, he does believe his team can get two wins and advance to the final eight in Columbus.
“If we play like we are capable of playing, we can beat a lot of people,” Brown said. “But you never know how they are going to react.”
When it comes to White County’s opponent St. Pius X (24-9-1), Brown doesn’t know many specifics, but does know that his team will be facing a good team.
“They’ve won 24 ball games, so you know they must be a pretty good ball club,” Brown said. “We know that they hit the ball pretty well and pitch it OK and are a good defensive team.”
St. Pius won the Region 5-AAA region championship this season after going a perfect 10-0 in region play. The Lady Golden Lions swept Gilmer in the opening round of state, winning Game 1, 2-0 and Game 2, 12-4 in five innings.
Despite the fact that this is the first time White County has ever been past the first round of the state playoffs, Brown doesn’t believe the team will feel any extra pressure.
“These girls have played in high pressure games for most of their lives,” Brown said. “A lot of them have played in national tournaments in travel ball, so they should be fine with the pressure.”
Both McDonald and Satterfield agreed with their coach.
“I don’t really feel any pressure, I’m just really anxious,” Satterfield said. “I’m so excited I can’t even explain it. I’m probably not even going to sleep tonight.”
McDonald echoed her teammate saying, “we just want to play.”
“We told coach Brown that we wish (Tuesday) didn’t even happen,” McDonald said. “We just want it to be game day already.”
Also competing in state softball action today are Buford and Union County.
The Lady Wolves (26-4) finished the season No. 1 in Class AA and won the Region 6-AA championship.
The three-time defending Class AA state champion, Buford swept the first round of state, defeating Dawson County 6-0 and 10-1.
The Lady Wolves will take on the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AA, Dade County, at 4 p.m. today in Buford. Dade County (24-12) defeated Manchester 12-0 and 16-1 in its opening match-up of the state playoffs.
Union County (26-1-1) swept Lovett in the first round (9-0, 8-0) after winning the Region 8-AA championship. The Lady Panthers completed the regular season ranked No. 2 in Class AA and will play host to Rockmart (26-7), the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AA, at 4 p.m. today. Rockmart advanced the second round after defeating Callaway 11-0, 8-0.