There's an old baseball adage which goes something like this: “Good pitching beats good hitting anytime.”
Well, that might just be true.
However, the theory holds up just as easily when it comes to high school fastpitch softball, especially the way it's played in the Southern Crescent.
Talented softball pitchers seem to come out of the woodwork in Clayton and Henry counties, and have, ever since Sarah Wallace led Eagle's Landing to a state title a few years back.
Starting Friday afternoon, five teams from Henry and Clayton counties will begin their own quest for state titles as Union Grove, Luella, Eagle's Landing, Eagle's Landing Christian and Jonesboro all begin play in state sectionals at locations around the state.
At Union Grove, the Lady Wolverines have been ranked as high as No. 1 in the Class AAAAA gasports coaches poll. The Lady Wolverines picked up a tremendous boost to their state championship hopes when Terese Gober transferred from Stockbridge.
Gober has mowed down opposing batters like they are standing still. Gober will no doubt become the second member of her family to pitch at the college level. Big sister Tara Gober helped Stockbridge become a state power during her days as a member of the Lady Tigers. Add fellow pitcher Monica Perry to the mix, and the Lady Wolverines have a one-two punch which has definitely paid dividends this year.
Brooke Loudermilk has the Luella Lady Lions thinking about a state title in just the school's third year of operation.
During last week's Region 3-AAAA tournament, Loudermilk was the catalyst as the Lady Lions captured their first ever region title. In 26 1/3 innings at the tournament, Loudermilk fanned 51 batters.
In the tournament opener, Loudermilk pitched a perfect game, striking out 16.
Luella, earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament heading to the state sectionals, and have won 11 of its last 12 games.
Luella's county rival, Eagle's Landing, could also make a serious run at the state tournament with senior Terri Mesko on the mound. Although Eagle's Landing goes in to the state sectionals as the No.3 seed, Mesko has the ability to take over a contest. When Mesko takes the mound, she is likely to average in double figures in strikeouts for the Lady Golden Eagles. At last week's tournament, she struckout 19 against Henry, 17 against Luella and 15 against Westside Macon.
Pitching has also helped Eagle's Landing Christian go from a struggling program to a state power almost overnight. The arrival of freshman pitcher Hope Rush helped Eagle's Landing Christian go undefeated in Region 5-A and earn a No. 2 ranking in the Class A poll.
Rush has recorded 10 shutouts,
Four years ago, a young pitcher arrived at Jonesboro and helped turn the Lady Cardinals into a state power as Heather Lowry overpowered batters from day one. With Lowry on the mound, Jonesboro has gone to four straight state tournaments.
This weekend, Lowry will begin play in her final state tournament. She will then embark on a Division I college career at Virginia Tech.
It's to early to tell if one of the local teams will bring a state title back to town. One thing is for sure, however, if it happens, it will be a pitcher who leads the way.
(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ).