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Rain alters softball tournament, not focus
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The rain may have disrupted the Region 7-AAA softball tournament, but it did not keep two teams with playoff hopes from making the most of the break.

With a trip to the Class AAA State Sectionals on the line and a meeting on Wednesday washed out due to inclement weather, the Flowery Branch (14-16) and White County (23-6) softball teams headed indoors for what each hopes will be the reason their season continues.

“It’s good because it’s going to give us some more time batting in the cages,” Flowery Branch coach Valerie Lancaster said. “It would have been nice to keep going, but we’ll take this time to work on some things.”

Also spending time in the batting cage were the Lady Warriors, but according to their coach, the day off is more beneficial in terms of pitching, not hitting.

“It doesn’t hurt for Stephanie to get some rest,” said White County coach John Brown in reference to his star pitcher Stephanie Satterfield, who has won 19 games this year. “It never hurts when you get a chance to rest your pitcher.”

A well-rested Satterfield will play a big role in whether or not the Lady Warriors advance in the region tournament and earn a spot in the state playoffs, but Brown knows his team will need to do more than just rely on strong pitching.

“Flowery Branch is a good team, and we’re going to have to play good to beat them,” he said. “They’ve really improved from last year.”

Coming off a 9-12-2 season in 2007, Flowery Branch returned all of its starters and improved its win total by five games this year. Now, the Lady Falcons are one game away from reaching the state playoffs for the first time in school history.“It’ll be big if we can make state,” Lancaster said. “It’ll prove that we are competitors and that we can play well when it matters the most.”

Leading the Lady Falcons is senior leadoff hitter Alyssa Jannakos, who can hit from either side of the plate and boasts a .387 batting average. Flowery Branch is also getting solid contributions from a pair of freshmen, Kaley Garmon and Caitlin Fowler. Both are hitting .300 this season, and Fowler, the team’s first baseman, has a pair of home runs.

Lancaster knows that those three will have a tough task when they face Satterfield today, which is the main reason why the team is using the rain out to perfect their approach at the plate.

“We’re working on seeing more pitches,” Lancaster said. “To be disciplined at the plate is our key. We have to lay off the pitches over the hands.”

That didn’t happen in the two teams’ only meeting this year, a 7-1 win by White County. And while the Lady Warriors have confidence knowing that they already beat Flowery Branch once this year, Brown is making sure that his team knows that the previous win means nothing now.

“Anytime you beat somebody you get confidence,” Brown said. “But in a one-game playoff it doesn’t matter.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and I have to make them realize that you can’t take any team lightly.”

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