It’s a first-place showdown.
The Troup and Carrollton softball teams have each won their first three Region 5-AAAA games, and something will have to give today when those teams face off.
Troup, which has won six consecutive games, will host the game at 5 p.m.
It’s a big opportunity for the Lady Tigers, but head coach Blair Shimandle doesn’t want her players to do anything different.
“You don’t change the way you play,” Shimandle said. “You keep playing the way that got you here in the first place. I think that they see that.”
Everything has been going the Lady Tigers’ way since they lost their first two games of the season in the Callaway Classic.
Troup bounced back to win its final three games in that tournament, and it followed that up with three straight region wins.
The Lady Tigers won those first two region games in blowout fashion.
Then against Woodward Academy last week, Troup scored seven runs in the top of the eighth inning to win 10-3.
Now, Troup has a chance to stake a claim to first place by itself.
“If we play errorless defense, execute when we need to with the short game, and get the clutch hits, we’re going to be successful,” Shimandle said. “We don’t have to change our game plan just because of who we’re playing. The good news is I think the girls understand that.”
There were some question marks coming into the season since the Lady Tigers had to replace a handful of seniors who were a huge part of the program for years.
Thanks largely to the contributions of some first-time starters, though, including a pair of freshmen, the Lady Tigers have put it all together.
“Probably the most fun we’ve had this year coaching-wise is seeing these girls who are younger but look like veterans, who are completely comfortable,” Shimandle said.
There are some veterans on the team, and one of them is having a phenomenal season.
Junior Amber Arnold is putting up extraordinary numbers with a .696 batting average and a team-high 12 RBIs.
Two of the sophomores, Andrea Nix and Kinley Stanford, are hitting well above .400.
Junior Hanna Lane is close to .400 with a .389 average, and junior Libby Wheeler is hitting .357.
The two freshmen in the lineup, Maddie Weathers and Abby Taylor, are both hitting above .300.
The Lady Tigers have a team batting average of .376, and an on-base percentage of .505.
Lane has handled most of the pitching duties for Troup, and she is 5-1 with a 2.68 earned run average.
Whatever happens today, Troup will be fine shape heading into the remainder of the season.
Troup will wrap up the first half of the region schedule on Sept. 9 against Whitewater.
The top four teams will participate in the region tournament, and each of those teams will qualify for the state tournament.
There will be plenty of big games to come, and Shimandle believes the players understand that and won’t put too much emphasis on today’s game.
“In the past, we’ve always made a bigger deal out of certain games, and I think our girls have reached a point where they understand that you can’t do that,” Shimandle said.