Lakeside and Marist needed extra innings to decide the outcomes of its first two games this season.
Marist won both, the second in the Region 6-AAAA playoffs. The two teams met for the third time in the Region 6-AAAA tournament finals Oct. 6 with Marist prevailing 7-1 over a Lakeside team that played four tournament games and 32 innings in three days.
Despite the lopsided score in the region finals, it’s not a stretch to imagine both teams making the eight-team field for the state Class AAAA finals beginning Oct. 27 in Columbus.
“They’re a scrappy bunch,” said coach Mike Trapani of Marist, which is the only team to beat the Vikings this season. “They’re a tough team, there’s no question about that.”
Both teams will host first-round games in the state tournament. Marist plays Kell while Lakeside faces Chapel Hill. Dunwoody finished third in the region tournament and faces Pope in the first round at state while No. 4 seed Chamblee plays Paulding County.
In Class AAA, St. Pius won its fourth straight region tournament and faces Central Carroll in the first round of the state tournament. The Golden Lions beat Woodward Academy twice for the region title and outscored the opposition 42-6 in four tournament games.
The Golden Lions scored four runs in the sixth inning to beat Woodward 5-4, then won 10-2 to clinch the region title. Natasha Sherrod and Dylan Krause each drove in two runs in the 10-2 win.
Marist swept through three games in its region tournament by a combined score of 24 -7. The lone close call was a nine-inning 7-6 win over Lakeside in the second round. The War Eagles, state champions in 2008 and 2009, are looking for a deep run in the state playoffs again after a first-round exit last season.
“We’re getting better,” Trapani said. “Our pitching is better and I’m proud of our defense. I think we’re more mature compared to last year when we had only two seniors. We hit much deeper into the lineup this year.”
That has been evident all season and was again in the region tournament. Marist scored five runs in the first inning in the finals with RBIs from Ashlyn Johns, Kendall Chadwick and Natalie Zink.
Pitching and defense also has been a strength for the War Eagles. Freshman pitcher Grace Packer has proved to be hard to hit all season.
Senior Maddie Jewell was solid at second base and made two plays that helped keep Lakeside from mounting rallies in the finals. Running toward first base in the outfield grass, she made a diving catch of a pop-up. Later she made a bare-handed grab of a grounder that deflected off the first baseman’s glove and threw out the Lakeside runner.
“The close games we’ve had against Lakeside I think help us and the schedule we had outside the region helps prepare you for the state tournament,” Trapani said.
Despite the losses to Marist in the region tournament, Lakeside coach Tricia Newmyer is looking forward to her team’s first trip to the state playoffs since 2003.
“This team never gives up,” Newmyer said. “We came back to beat Dunwoody, and even against Marist when we were down 7-0, we still came back, got people on base and scored.”
The Vikings were trailing several times over the final innings against Dunwoody before pulling out a 5-4 win in 10 innings that put them in the finals. Susanne Boden hit a two-RBI triple in extra innings, then doubled to score the winning run in the 10th.
“I try to tell the kids to enjoy the moment,” Newmyer said. “We haven’t been this far since 2003. It would be nice to be able to see [Marist] again in the state finals.”