PCA gains No. 3 seed for South State tourney

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2002

[09/20/02]In a surprising turn of events, the Porters Chapel fast-pitch softball team will be entering Saturday’s MPSA South State Academy-A tournament as the third seed against sixth-ranked Glenbrook.

With only four seniors on a team populated with youth, no one was more surprised at the high seeding than the players themselves.

“It’s unbelievable,” Courtney Angel said. “I never imagined going into the tournament as the third seed, I thought we would be going into the tournament as the last seed.”

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With key injuries and plenty of youthful mistakes early in the season, Lady Eagles coach Kevin Griffin’s expectations for an 18-win season may have appeared lofty. But with three games canceled from the end of their schedule and a 15-9 record going into the tournament, Griffin wasn’t that far off his intended goal.

“My goal was to go 18-9 this year,” Griffin said. “We’ve been up and down all year, but our win against a good pitching Deer Creek team proved that we could play with anyone. We’re going into the tournament looking tough.”

With the loss of key infielder Lindsey McCool to injury in the middle of the season, it appeared the Lady Eagles, already struggling with inexperience, would be weakened for their playoff run.

“I think we look pretty good. It’s been difficult with injuries, but we’re just now coming together,” Angel said. “I think after Lindsey got hurt everyone pulled together as a team, and to win this we have to do it as a team.”

But with the absence of McCool, it took some time and juggling of positions for Griffin to plug in the glaring hole left at shortstop.

The Lady Eagles initially moved catcher Amy Rutledge to shortstop, but her experience and throwing arm were soon missed behind the plate. Griffin’s next move was to switch senior Lindsey Webb from first base to shortstop and to bring Jessica Lord from right field to first base.

Having three seniors in the infield has helped solidify a team that had given up 91 runs on the year, only 23 of them earned.

“They’re approaching offense and defense with more confidence instead of being fearful,” Griffin said.

The offense has every right to be confident, at least in the top of the order. Angel is batting .691, and the top five in the batting order are hitting .395.

The Lady Eagles’ offense has also had success against Glenbrook. In the first game of the season, PCA put the ten-rule mercy rule into effect against the Lady Apaches.

Add to the mix that the bottom of the Lady Eagles’ batting order has drastically improved since their first confrontation with Glenbrook, that the team is on a three game winning streak and has won seven of its last 11 games, and the Lady Eagles look to be a team primed for a playoff run.

“Anybody who wants to can go to the tournament, so it’s not like we earned a spot since anyone can go,” Griffin said. “But the fact that we received a number three seed shows that we’ve opened some eyes along the line.”