The Lady Bulldogs of Thomson High School are, as the old saying goes, on Cloud 9 these days and rightfully so. For the first time in school history, Thomson is ranked 10th in the latest Georgia High School Association Class AAA softball poll.
They even had a chance to move up in that ranking this week, pending the outcome of Tuesday's region clash against West Laurens of Dublin, the defending region champions. West Laurens came into that game ranked 6th in the state poll. A story about that game was posted online Wednesday.
"I'm very proud of these girls, especially the four seniors on the team, because they have been with me for the past four years," said Thomson head coach Jason Osborn. "They have all worked real hard to get where they've gotten this season."
Going into the game against West Laurens, the Lady Bulldogs sported an overall record of 12-1 and were 3-0 in Region 3-AAA play.
Coach Osborn said it's nice that his team is state ranked, but wants them to remember: "It's like having a big old bull's eye on your back. Everybody wants to beat you."
He said he just wants them to go out every game and perform to the level that he knows they are capable of performing.
"If you're prepared, you shouldn't have any pressure," coach Osborn said, noting it's not where his team is at this point that matters, but where they finish the season.
"I want this team to be as good as they can be," said coach Osborn, pointing out that he believes his team has an opportunity to win the region championship and advance to the state playoffs for the second year in a row. "We just have to continue to work hard and keep winning. It's all about believing in yourselves -- I tell them that all of the time. We're going to give it our best shot, that's for sure," coach Osborn said.
It's true. The last time he shared such a philosophy with his team was last Saturday when they journeyed south to beat the Richmond Hill Lady Wildcats 4-2. It set the showdown for Tuesday's big game against West Laurens -- pitting the first place region team against Thomson -- the second place region team.
In the game against Richmond Hill, freshman third baseman Jadah Lawson smashed a two-run double into the right center field gap to break open a 2-2 game.
"She does a good job for us as a ninth-grader," coach Osborn said. "I have a lot of confidence in her."
Richmond Hill's Lady Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Thomson, meanwhile, put together a four-run rally in the top of the third.
The rally began when left fielder Shannon Chalker singled. Shortstop Hannah Wilson then reached on a one-out error before senior catcher Hannah Pereda walked. Pereda was lifted for courtesy runner Miranda Barker. Second baseman Brooke Herkel kept things alive when she hit a ground-rule double that allowed Chalker and Wilson to race home. That's when Lawson stepped up to the plate and met the challenge head-on.