Eight of our local programs made the state playoffs. After the first round, five had survived to the Sweet 16. Now, only two remain, with Banks County and Jefferson still alive as they travel to Columbus for the Elite 8 tournament.
It’s a fresh start for both programs, who kick off the tournament on Thursday and conclude no later than Saturday if they make it to the championship game. Banks County was the third place finisher in 2017, so the Lady Leopards will be looking to repeat and upstage that performance.
The Lady Leopards were last year’s team of the year after going 26-9 on the way to the Final 4 in Columbus. Those girls were the 8-AA Region Champions and were ranked as high as #3 in the state. With just two seniors graduating, we all knew this year was poised to be even better.
While some things haven’t gone Banks County’s way, such as losing out on a back-to-back region championship, the Lady Leopards have been every bit as good, setting a program-best in homeruns, racking up a 26-8 record to date and getting back to Columbus. Coach Tony Bowen has a lineup that has to be considered the best in Class 2A, and a phenomenal ace pitcher in Tybee Denton. The offense, where Denton also makes her mark, is anchored by Jaycie Bowen and others. This #2-ranked team in Class 2A earlier in the season is ready to take that number one spot.
BANKS COUNTY vs HARLEM
OCTOBER 25 – 3 PM
Harlem (27-4) will be perhaps the toughest out for Banks County so far. The team is stapled by sophomore Kali Garrett (.446 AVG, 7 HR, 28 RBI) and an incredible lineup on paper. This team has 283 runs scored (9.1/game) led by the following:
Skyler Wiggins: .508 AVG, HR, 29 RBI, 11 2B, 1 3B, 11 R
Savana Bibbins: .478 AVG, 8 RBI, 2 2B, 19 R, 6 SB
Aleja Dorsey: .459 AVG, 6 RBI, 3 2B, 36 R, 13 SB
Peyton Perdue: .456 AVG, 12 RBI, 7 2B, 1 3B, 39 R
Emily Matthews: .446 AVG, 20 RBI, 2 2B, 15 R
Kali Garrett: .446 AVG, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 11 2B, 12 R
Aliyah Luke: .420 AVG, 12 RBI, 5 2B, 2 3B, 26 R, 4 SB
Skylar Strickland: .419 AVG, 22 RBI, 6 2B, 6 3B, 28 R, 5 SB
Ciara Cullars: .396 AVG, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 2B, 3B, 18 R
And there are still three others hitting .308 or better….this is INSANE! The Lady Bulldogs have a one-two pitching punch of Wiggins (13-2, 1.68 ERA, 80 K) and Dixie Hill (14-2, 1.57 ERA, 56 K). HOWEVER, the firepower throughout the lineup is equally impressive for Banks County. FULL 2A BRACKET
The Lady Dragons (27-6) are the Region 8-AAA Champions, and have rolled through the playoffs so far. The girls open with Cook County on Thursday.
JEFFERSON vs COOK COUNTY
OCTOBER 25 – 5 PM
Cook (17-8) average around 8 runs per game, so the Jefferson pitching and defense needs to be on point. The Lady Hornets are accustomed to giving up some runs (4/game) so the Lady Dragons can expose that weakness. FULL 3A BRACKET