The Briarwood Academy middle school softball team is hoping to end the most successful season in years with a sweep of the season-ending softball tourney at Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville this weekend.
Although Thomas Jefferson is playing host to the six-team tourney, the MS Lady Bucs will play host to their first game of the tourney versus the MS Curtis Baptist Lady Crusaders at 4 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 2, at Briarwood
After the first round of the elimination tournament on Thursday, the final rounds will be played at TJA in Louisville on Saturday. Other schools participating include Robert Toombs Academy of Lyons, David Emanuel Academy of Stillmore and Bulloch Academy of Statesboro.
"We don't play another team, we play ourselves. It's how well we execute," said Tony Pate, one of three parent volunteer coaches of the 13-member team. "It's a team thing. They work well together. They dig deep and root each other on, and they're concerned with whether the team wins."
The MS Lady Bucs' 2008 season got off to a slow start and then picked up speed, ending the season at 9-2 overall.
One of the team's two losses, both to Brentwood School of Sandersville, came in the final game of the regular season last week at Briarwood when the GISA Class A MS Lady Bucs hosted the AAA Lady Eagles.
The MS Lady Bucs, who fell to Brentwood 11-4 early in the season, came back to lead the all eighth grade MS Lady Eagles team until sixth inning when the Lady Eagles caught up and tied the game. The Lady Eagles "executed better" and outscored the Lady Bucs 4-2 in the seventh inning for the 9-7 win.
The MS Lady Bucs are a young team, composed mainly of seventh graders.
"The other coaches find it hard to believe we only have two eight graders," Pate said. "Almost all of our victories have been on the run rule." (Games are awarded to the team leading at the end of the third inning by 15 runs, the end of the fourth inning by 12 runs, and the end of the fifth inning by eight runs.)
Team members include pitchers - eighth grader Meghan Smith and seventh grader Tiffany Pate and reliever seventh grader Brooke McGahee, first base - Pate and Smith, second base - sixth grader Kylie Guy, shortstop - seventh grader Copeland Price, third base - seventh grader Nicole Jones, catcher - sixth grader Cameron Stadler, left field - seventh grader English Coit and sixth grader Shelby Patterson, centerfield, seventh grader Mackenzie Simpkins and sixth grader Taylor Johnson, right field eighth grader Morgan Messenger and seventh grader Mayleigh Adams, and coaches Kelly Guy, Wayne Wilson and Pate.
"They've raised the bar," Pate said of the team. "They have improved across the board; they're solid.
"They've worked hard. Anything you ask of them, they do it. They give you 100 percent. They have really good attitudes, and, most importantly, they're excelling in the classroom," he said. "We have a bright future here."