Another Iris City showdown looms large as the Griffin Lady Bears and the Spalding Lady Jaguars battle each other on the softball diamond today at Griffin High at 5 p.m.
Spalding has won the last four meetings between the crosstown rivals, including a 10-4 victory in 2008 — a game in which Griffin lost a 3-1 lead. Lady Bears coach Roger Alford said he’s looking forward to today’s contest.
“I believe the girls are ready to play and knock Spalding off this year. We just have to eliminate the mistakes,” he said. “Our girls have a lot of confidence. It’s going to come down to who makes plays and who doesn’t.”
Alford said the Lady Bears (14-4) are confident despite not having played since a 16-0 thrashing of Region 4-AAAA foe Mt. Zion-Jonesboro on Sept. 16 due to the heavy rainfall last week. The No. 5 ranked Lady Jags (14-3-1) haven’t played since defeating Mary Persons 10-3 on Sept. 15 to remain in a four-way tie for first place in Region 4-AAA.
“The one good thing about all the rain is that the girls were able to get some rest, especially our pitcher Allison Waters,” said Alford, who will start Waters on the mound today.
Spalding head coach Rusty Hudson, in his second year at SHS after being Griffin’s head coach for years, said his team is preparing for Griffin like they would for any other team.
“We’re going to go right at them,” said Hudson. “Griffin is a good ball club and we respect their players. If anything, we may have to make some adjustments during the game.”
Despite the home run potential of Lady Jags players Cember Carmichael and Heather Kilar, Alford believes the key to a Griffin win is keeping Spalding’s lead batters off base each inning, especially Spalding’s leadoff hitter Mallory O’Kelley, who has a knack for reaching base.
“I know Rusty would like to get Mallory on and then play small ball until his big hitters come up. I’ve noticed Cember has become a much better hitter,” said Alford, who was an assistant under Hudson and remains good friends with him. “If we can control that, we’ll be okay. The first two innings will tell the story.”
Griffin has been hitting the ball well for the most part, getting timely hits from Markeda Crawford, Jahmiya Clemons, Waters, Alex Smith, Jessie Goodman, Brianna McDaniel and Sarah Hill. Spalding pitcher Emily Vaughn will definitely have her hands full today.
Spalding will also get an earful in today's game: Alford said the GHS band plans to come out and play at points during the game.
"The band should make for a fun atmosphere," Alford said.
The Lady Bears will play one more game after today (Thursday at Stockbridge) before the Region 4-AAAA tournament at Griffin’s Volunteer Park. The Milton Invitational was cancelled and won’t be made up.
Spalding hosts South Atlanta tomorrow and will face road games with Pike County and Locust Grove next Monday and Tuesday and a makeup game with Jackson on Wednesday.