The Central High School Lady Raider softball team hosts Riverdale at 7 p.m. Saturday in a contest that will decide which team advances to the TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling State Tournament in Murfreesboro next week. The game was originally scheduled for Friday but was rained out.
“Something, as we always hope as head coaches, things have started clicking for us lately,” said CHS head coach Terry Floyd. “We have had some losses we shouldn’t have had and I think the girls have realized we have to play with intensity from the get go. I think we are ready to play.”
Riverdale comes into Saturday’s game with a strong 32-11-1 record. But the Lady Warriors have been struggling over the past month. After starting 21-1 and creeping into the national polls, the Lady Warriors are just 11-10 in their last 21 games including five losses to Smyrna. One of those five losses came Wednesday night, a 5-0 loss to Smyrna in the Region 4-AAA title game.
Despite some recent struggles, Floyd expects Riverdale to be ready.
“Riverdale coach [Christy] Bingham, the new head coach, is a very good coach,” explained Floyd. “She has been to the state tournament with St. Benedict. They will be very well coached and I’m sure they will have their team ready.”
The two teams have met often over the past 10 years but only twice in the state sectional game. Riverdale won both of those meetings. Last year Coffee County avoided Riverdale in the state sectional and finally broke down the door to the state tournament with a win over Lincoln County.
“That experience means so much,” said Floyd. “This same group of girl shave been through this night that is fixing to happen. And they know Riverdale has beaten us twice in this game.”
Meanwhile, Coffee County (28-9) comes into the game hot on the heals of a 5-0 victory over perennial rival Soddy-Daisy at home Wednesday for the Region 3-AAA championship. It was Coffee County’s second win over the Lady Trojans in school history.
Of the sixteen teams still remaining in AAA-level competition, the Lady Raiders have posted the strongest defensive numbers by far, allowing only 1.6 runs per game. So far in postseason play Floyd has relied on the right arm on sophomore Brianna Jones (15-6, 0.69 ERA) to carry most of the Lady Raiders’ pitching duties. Jones is 5-1 with 53 strikeouts in six postseason games. Fellow sophomore Bricen Hunt (13-3, 1.54 ERA) is also available as a powerful force in the circle.
The weather factor
First pitch was set for 7 p.m. Friday but rain forced officials to move the game to 7 p.m. Saturday at Central High School.