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Softball: 7-AAA teams prep for regular season finale
Johnson High first baseman Haley Arnold gets the throw too late to put out a West Hall base runner earlier this season at the Johnson High softball field. Region 7-AAA wraps up its regular season today. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Few questions remain in Region 7-AAA as the softball regular season draws to a close.

Most teams will wrap up regular-season play today, and with only one subregion matchup, the seedings for next week’s region tournament are almost in place — almost.

With a win today over Chestatee (4-25, 0-4 Region 7A-AAA), Pickens would move ahead of East Hall in the region standings, jumping from No. 11 to the 10th seed.

A Lady War Eagles’ win would move them up from the No. 13 seed to No. 11, ahead of Johnson (0-17, 0-5 Region 7B-AAA) and Pickens (10-10 1-4 Region 7A-AAA).

Regardless of the outcome of the Pickens-Chestatee game, however, the top nine in the region standings are secured.

In the professional ranks, with the postseason on the horizon and nothing to be settled, teams will often rest starters in the final games of the season in the hopes of healing ailments or renewing the vigor lost from a long season.

That isn’t the case with high school softball.

"Our best players will be out there because we want to be just right about peaking come tournament time," West Hall coach Warren Sellers said.

"The question is always, ‘Do you put your best pitcher in the circle,’" White County coach John Brown said. "The answer is, ‘yes.’ I think you put your best players on the field in any game. We want to go out and do our best."

Brown’s Lady Warriors, seeded fifth, will face West Forsyth today in Cumming. The Lady Wolverines (8-10, 4-1 Region 7B-AAA) are the fourth seed for next week’s tournament.

White County (20-5, 4-2 Region 7A-AAA) will put sophomore standout Stephanie Satterfield (17-3) in the circle in the hopes of getting one more win before heading into the postseason.

White County comes into today’s contest winners of 14 of its last 15, by an average of four runs per game.

"Our girls right now are playing pretty good and we want to keep that momentum," Brown said.

North Hall and West Hall (19-8, 5-0 Region 7B-AAA) will meet today with nothing but bragging rights on the line.

"Through the years the West Hall-North Hall matchup has been exciting and a great game," North Hall coach Roger Fannon said. "Ours girls get really excited for it. It’s two good programs going head-to-head."

"It’s a big rivalry," Sellers said. "It’s a game we’d really like to win to gain momentum going into the tournament."

The Lady Trojans (12-10-1, 3-3 Region 7A-AAA) will put Megan Rogers in the circle against West Hall’s ace, Emily Hammond.

Rogers is coming off a perfect game in which she set the Lady Trojans’ single-season record for strikeouts (164).

"For us to win whether it’s (today) or in the region tournament, Megan (Rogers) has to pitch well," Fannon said. "We know that Emily (Hammond) will pitch great against us."

Fannon admitted that he and his team have been thinking about and preparing for the region tournament for the past couple of weeks and will use today’s game to, "fine tune our skills against a really good team."

"Winning would boost our confidence a little bit," Fannon said. "We want to beat each other pretty bad."

In other games today, the No. 1 seed heading into next week’s tournament, Creekview, will play Gainesville, the eighth seed.

The Lady Grizzlies (24-6, 6-0 Region 7A-AAA) have dominated in their first year of play in Region 7-AAA, going 10-0 in region play, beating teams by an average of six runs and only giving up seven total.

"They’re well-coached," said Brown, whose team lost to Creekview 2-0 in the teams’ only meeting of the season. "They play with a lot of intensity and are real consistent defensively.

"They don’t have deep-ball hitters, but play small ball and advance runners."

Flowery Branch, the sixth seed in the region standings, will play host to Lumpkin County (16-12, 4-2 Region 7A-AAA), which has secured the No. 3 seed. In the teams first meeting of the season, the Lady Falcons (13-15, 2-3 Region 7B-AAA) won 6-1.

Lady Indians coach Lori Hall, regardless of her team’s settled position in region, plans to play to win.

"We prepare ourselves to play each game," Hall said. "We don’t look forward."

The remaining matchup of the day will be East Hall playing host to Gilmer.

The Lady Vikings (4-19, 2-3 Region 7B-AAA) are on a five-game losing streak going into their first matchup of the season with Gilmer (9-17, 1-4 Region 7A-AAA).

With little riding on today’s games, what’s the motivation to play the best players and win?

"We have a saying that we want to be playing our best when the weather turns cool," Sellers said. "Everyone’s goal is to make the state tournament, and taking one day off could be the difference in doing it and not."

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