Now, they are just two steps away from obtaining an even bigger goal — making a trip to Columbus for the Elite Eight.
The Lady Jackets (22-10), the No. 1 seed from 7-AA, open the state playoffs by hosting Greater Atlanta Christian (10-10), the No. 4 seed from 6-AA, for a best-of-three series starting with a doubleheader at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. (If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be played on Thursday at 6 p.m.)
Calhoun coach Diane Smith said her team is primed and ready for a deep postseason run to start on Wednesday.
“I’m really excited about where my team is right now and how we’re playing,” said Smith. “We anticipated all season being at this point as well as winning a region championship so the girls are excited and confident. And we’re looking forward to playing on our home field which is something we’ve only done four times this year.”
Calhoun has won 11 games in a row, including going 4-0 at the Region 7-AA Tournament en route to their first region crown since 2008. They will have had almost a week layoff between games when they take the field against GAC on Wednesday, but Smith said she isn’t worried about that.
“I’ve always been one to give the girls a few days off between games anyways because I know there’s more to life than playing softball,” said Smith. “I gave them Friday and Monday off because they needed it, and I needed it.
“I don’t think it will affect us. I think it gave them an opportunity to get away from it, and I know they’ll come back focused and ready.”
Smith and the Lady Jackets have been clear this season that their goal was much more than just going to the playoffs a year after they were absent in 2011. They are aiming for Columbus and beyond. Even so, Smith said her team can’t overlook anyone.
“That’s what I always tell the girls is that we can’t take anyone lightly, including GAC,” said Smith. “Naturally, our goal is to get to Columbus, and I think we can beat any AA team in the state. Most of our losses are to really good teams in higher classifications, and even in those, we hung in there. So I feel good about our chances. The team has great chemistry and a great attitude.”
The Lady Jackets haven’t been to Columbus since 2008 when they made it all the way to the state championship game before losing to Buford. The first opponent in their way to get back there is GAC, a traditionally powerful team. But Smith said her team is ready for the challenge.
“I don’t know that much about them this year other than their record because I haven’t seen them play, but GAC always has a good team,” said Smith. “We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game and that’s the attitude we have to have.
“I expect to jump on them early, take care of business and get ready for the next round.”
If the Lady Jackets advance, the second round will begin next Wednesday, and it will also be held in Calhoun. With a win in that series, the Lady Jackets would be headed for Columbus.
GAC (10-10) at Calhoun (22-10)
SERIES INFO: Best-of-three series starting with a doubleheader today at 6 p.m. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be played Thursday at 6 p.m.
SEEDS: Calhoun is the No. 1 seed from 7-AA; GAC is the No. 4 seed from 6-AA
STATE RANKINGS: Calhoun — No. 5 in coaches poll; GAC — unranked
CALHOUN INFO: The Lady Jackets enter the playoffs on an 11-game winning streak, including going 4-0 at the Region 7-AA Tournament. …This will be Calhoun’s fifth state playoff appearance in the last seven years. …Calhoun’s pitching staff and defense has given up two or fewer runs in 15 games this season.
GAC INFO: The Lady Spartans have lost seven of their last ten games as they enter the playoffs. … This will by GAC’s ninth straight appearance in the state playoffs. …GAC has only shut out their opponent in two games this season and has allowed 10 or more runs five times.
CALHOUN TIMES PICK: Calhoun wins the series in two games.