In the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament, the Lady Grangers will be a long way from home as they take on Madison County in a best-of-three opening-round series.
The two teams will play a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m., and if needed, a third and deciding game would be Thursday.
LaGrange made it to state after finishing fourth in the Region 5-AAAA tournament.
After losing to Alexander in its tournament opener, LaGrange rebounded to defeat Fayette County 7-3 in its second game.
In a semifinal game, LaGrange (17-12) lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Carrollton to finish fourth.
Madison County, meanwhile, is the top seed from Region 8-AAAA and it brings a 26-5 record into the tournament.
On Monday, LaGrange was on its home turf at Granger Park getting in some final preparations for Madison County.
“Madison County is a good team,” assistant coach Jeff Skinner said. “They’re solid defensively. They play a lot of small ball. They do a lot of bunting, especially if they’re facing a good pitcher, which they will be facing, so we’re anticipating a lot of bunts, a lot of slaps, ground balls to make you field it and throw them out.”
LaGrange will pin a lot of its hopes on junior pitcher Emily Anderson, who has had another sensational season.
Offensively, meanwhile, Skinner said a key will be putting the bat on the ball and putting pressure on the defense.
“We need to do a better job putting balls in play, especially when we fall behind in counts,” Skinner said. “Defensively, I think we’ll be okay. We’ll be just fine.”
With Anderson on the mound, an early lead would be a huge benefit, Skinner feels.
“It would be good to get a one or two-run lead on them early and just settle into it,” Skinner remarked. “Hopefully we could steal the first one and then we would be the home team in the second game.”
LaGrange will be looking to its leaders , including seniors Mary Margaret Rogers and Savanna Wooten.
Junior center fielder Karsin Spinks is having a big season, and junior shortstop Shelby O’Neal brings plenty of pop to the lineup.
Second baseman Taylor Livingston, sophomore catcher Makenzie Traylor, sophomore outfielder Lauren Robinson, sophomore outfielder Lauren Robinson and freshman outfielder Leighton Parker have also made big contributions this season.
Many of those players have experience competing on the state level.
A year ago, LaGrange advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before falling to Oconee County.
Facing Madison County, Skinner believes LaGrange should be able to compete and have a chance to advance.
“Last year against Oconee, we knew what we were up against,” Skinner said. “We knew we were somewhat overmatched. In this case (against Madison County), they put the ball in play well, but there are better hitting teams in our region in my opinion.”
Still, Skinner knows LaGrange will have to be on its game to advance.
“We’re in one of those situations that we know we have to play well,” Skinner said.