Three area teams set for softball playoffs
Today starts the finest time of the year for sports cliches.
Yes, it's the time for the playoffs, the second season, when history is made, win or go home, and you'd better hope your team is peaking at the right time...
You get the idea, and the area has three softball teams that can make history or start at their summer jobs early.
Southern Columbia and Lourdes made the District 4 Class AA bracket and Shamokin picked up the last seed in the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
Southern and Lourdes get the pleasure of providing local fans a matchup they've wanted to see all season, and one we predicted would happen in the playoffs, albeit a round too soon.
Friday's game between the No. 4 Tigers and No. 5 Red Raiders is at Southern at 4:30 p.m.
Both teams have identical 14-6 records and a win in this game means different things for each team.
For Southern Columbia, a win, which most would say is likely for the Tigers because of experience, is a chance to face Warrior Run for the third time this season. The two-time state champs are awaiting the winner of the local game.
For Lourdes, a win, which is completely within its grasp, would mean an end to the naysayers and announce an arrival for a Red Raiders team that has seemingly wanted nothing more than to prove it belongs in the big games. There are six losses against the cream of the District 11 Class A crop this season that say otherwise.
But Southern Columbia shouldn't go into Friday's game on cruise control because Lourdes, much like South Williamsport early in the season and Muncy much later on, are capable of knocking off the Tigers, especially if the Tigers have any mental lapses or implosions during the game.
The keys for both teams are not the pitchers that have gotten them there and provided the most offensive pop (Southern's Mallory Tomaschik and Lourdes' CharLee Rosini), but the outfields of each teams.
Southern's outfield, which is the exact same lineup as last year, came through in tight situations during last year's run to the Class A championship game. And if the Tigers want to add to that resume, those three starters will need to step up again. The combination of Erin Troup (left field), Erin Yoder (center field) and Kim Reigle (right field) have combined for just two extra-base hits this season, and have been pulled at times this year for ineffective defensive play.
Meanwhile, Lourdes' outfield has been a saving grace. Emily Long, in centerfield, takes a vacuum with her onto the field and has pretty good range, but her contribution offensively, with 10 extra-base hits gives Lourdes and Rosini plenty of RBI opportunities. Add in Kara Keuhner (right field) and Jayme Lentini (left field) and the Red Raiders' outfield is definitely a strength and could play a huge roll in keeping Lourdes in the game.
Beyond that, if you're looking for a bonafide prediction, we predict the winner will have their hands full with Warrior Run.
As Southern proved last year, if a team can get hot at the right time of the year, magical things can happen.
Also on the playoff docket is Shamokin's return to the playoffs.
The Indians will travel to Athens Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. game with the Wildcats.
This game it seems will come down to pitching. The Indians will send sophomore Carley Nash to the rubber for her first postseason start. Nash has been spectacular at times, and has looked every bit the over-matched rookie at other times. The key for the Indians chances will be for Nash to keep the ball down and let her defense do the work.
For Athens, pitcher Katie Serfass is coming off a one-hitter in the Wildcats' last regular-season game.
As always, good luck to the area teams throughout their playoff runs.