1 goal down, 1 to go

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

Florala’s Lyndsee Edwards will try and help lead the Lady Wildcats to a state tournament berth this week in Gulf Shores. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

The Florala Lady Wildcats have one goal in mind as they travel to compete in the Class 1A South Regional Tournament in Gulf Shores this week — advance to the state tournament.

FHS beat Geneva County on Friday 6-5 in eight innings to get the regional tournament berth, and coach Phillip Smith said that victory showed that the girls “never quit.”

“We got out and scored some runs,” Smith said “We had some mental errors because of the fatigue, but in the end, they never quit. Whatever they had to do to stay in the ball game and ultilmately win it, that’s what they did.”

But, advancing to the regional tournament was a goal for the team, Smith said.

“Of course the goal is always to move to the next level (state tournament),” he said. “We want to finish first or second at regionals to be able to move on to state. That’s a goal that we know for us to do that, we would more than likely have to knock off two or three teams that’s likely going to be Kinston, Pleasant Home or Brantley.

“They’re really the competitors,” he said.

Florala finished its regular season with a 12-9 record, which was the first winning season the team has had in the past few years.

The Lady Wildcats will face Sweet Water on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the Sporstplex to start their regional tournament run.

Smith said Sweet Water has a lot of speed and can move around the bases with ease.

“They’ve got a lot of athletes and are really quick,” he said. “I think our advantage against them is gonig to be our defense, especially our pitching and keeping them off base.”

Leading FHS this week will be eighth grader and starting pitcher Lily Ritzel, and sophomore Lyndsee Edwards. Both were voted on by the team to be captains.

Edwards said the team had to keep its heads up during the second Geneva County game, and that’s what helped win it for them.

“We had to keep strong because it was really tough,” she said. “We had to play back to back. We were so tired.”

Edwards was a part of the team that made it to the regional tournament last year. This will be Florala’s second year in a row to make it to the beach.

She said she tries to lead by example even though she is just a sophomore.

“When they mess up on something, I just try to encourage them in a good way,” Edwards said. “I don’t try to hurt their feelings or bring them down. It just seems to do them better to do that so they’ll do better next time.”

If Florala has another chance to play Kinston this week, Smith said it should be a good match up.

“We’ve had a great second half of the season,” he said. “Even in our losses to Kinston, we’ve played hard and didn’t give up.

“We know we still — even against Kinston — haven’t played our best game. We’re going to need that to knock off at least two of those teams I just mentioned.”