They’re not ready for it to end
HOGANSVILLE – For four seasons, they’ve helped anchor the lineup on the Callaway High softball team.
Today, they could be about to share a field for the final time, although Keshonna Terrell and Brittany Mitchell are obviously hoping that’s not the case.
Callaway High’s softball team will be on the road today to play Region 8-AAA-champion Morgan County in the opening round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
It’ll be a best-of-three series, and they’ll play a doubleheader today beginning at 2 p.m., and if needed, a third and deciding game would be on Thursday.
Terrell and Mitchell are two of the five seniors on the team, and the others are Molly Hubbard, Jessica Perkins and Terriyunna Dunson.
Terrell and Mitchell have been knocking the cover off the ball since they were freshmen, and they haven’t slowed down since.
They are both four-year starters and have helped Callaway reach the state playoffs for four straight seasons.
While they have accomplished a great deal during their high-school careers, none of the seniors has ever been a part of a team that made it past the first round of the playoffs.
Terrell, a shortstop, is hoping that changes this week.
“We don’t want to just make it to the first round,” she said. “We want to get past it, to make a deep run. That is our goal.”
Callaway secured its place in the state playoffs by finishing fourth in the Region 5-AAA tournament last week.
After losing its first game to Pepperell 9-8, Callaway bounced back to beat Haralson County 11-3, and that was the win that wrapped up a state berth.
Callaway then lost to Pepperell 10-5 to finish fourth in the region.
The Lady Cavaliers swung the bat extremely well in the region tournament, and no one was hotter than Mitchell.
In the three games combined, Mitchell had seven hits and seven RBIs, and she hit a solo home run in the final game against Pepperell.
She wasn’t the only one getting it done at the plate.
Against Haralson County, Callaway had nine consecutive hits during a seven-run inning.
“I feel like once we start hitting at the start of the lineup, it’s like a chain reaction, and everybody starts hitting,” Mitchell said.
For the season, Mitchell is hitting .362 with three home runs and a team-leading 18 RBIs, and Terrell boasts a .361 average with five home runs and 17 RBIs.
Another senior, Perkins, has not only been a mainstay on the pitching staff, but she is hitting .467 with 11 RBIs, and she has a pair of home runs.
Freshman Oeisha Jenkins has had a terrific season with a .420 batting average with nine RBIs, and sophomore Skylar Rice is hitting .324 with 11 RBIs.
Another sophomore, Kelly Carlisle, is hitting .339, and while freshman Lydia Bartlett has a modest .237 batting average, she leads the team with 13 walks, and she has knocked in nine runs.
Perkins, Jenkins and freshman Mallory Gallaway have done almost all of the pitching this season.
Perkins has started 13 games, and she has four wins, and she will most likely be on the mound for Game 1 today.
Perkins has been the person Summerlin has usually called upon during big games the past few seasons.
Perkins said she does her best to focus on each pitch and not get distracted by what has happened.
“I always try to zone out,” she said. “I just focus on the next pitch, rather than the previous one.”
Jenkins leads the staff with a 3.03 earned run average, and Gallaway has the most pitching appearances with 17.
Callaway head coach Ashley Summerlin said he’s comfortable sending any of his pitchers to the mound.
“I know that we have the pitching,” he said. “I feel like we have more pitching than they’ve got. I believe that. All of our pitchers have thrown a lot of innings this year.
Morgan County brings a 23-6 record into this series, and it beat Oconee County 3-2 last week to secure the region championship.
Callaway’s record is just 9-15, but the team has played a challenging schedule, and most of the games have been competitive, and that included four one-run losses against region opponents.
“People look at that (record) and don’t think highly of you,” Summerlin said. “But the people we play against know you’re going to be in a dogfight.”
Hubbard, a three-year starter, believes this team has what it takes to make some noise at state.
“We’ve got the team to do it,” she said. “I feel like we’re going to do good, we’re going to do big things. We’ve had good practices. We’ve really been hitting good, and playing good defense. I’m ready to it. I know it’s going to be a good series.”
The one senior who doesn’t start is Dunson, and she’s fine with that.
After playing as a freshman, Dunson sat out her next two seasons before returning for her senior year.
“Whatever they need me to do, I’m behind them 100 percent, whether it’s playing, or cheering for them on the bench,” Dunson said.
So can Callaway pull off the upset today?
Summerlin thinks his team can do it, although it will obviously be a difficult task against a team of Morgan County’s caliber.
“I believe in our offense one through nine that we’ll be able to figure out a way to score some runs,” Summerlin said. “But Morgan County’s got a good team. They’re very sound in what they do. They like to bunt and run, they’re solid defensively. I feel it’s going to be a good series, if we play the way we’re capable of playing. That’s going to be the key. The key is the team that does the little things best is going to be the team that wins.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports