Harlem’s softball team refused to let its roster of young players prevent the Lady Bulldogs from achieving the goal of another region title.
Harlem swept Westside in two games last week, including an 8-0 shutout in a Game 2 clincher, to win the Region 3-AA Championship for the second consecutive year.
The Lady Bulldogs also swept through their region schedule for the second consecutive year, giving them a 20-0 record in region play the past two seasons.
Despite losing several seniors and playing with a young group this year, Harlem has withstood any growing pains and progressed as a team. In fact, Harlem had three fewer losses this season compared to last year.
“I’ve got to give the seniors some credit for our freshmen growing up,” coach Michael Leverett said. “When we do make a mistake, we pick each other up. We have a thing we say before every game, ‘Next pitch.’ When we make a mistake, we look to the next pitch. They’ve bought into that.”
A big part of Harlem staying steady with roster turnover has been the arm of sophomore Amber Garrett. The right-hander led the Lady Bulldogs to a state tournament appearance last year, and she did again with two solid performances against Westside in the region final.
In the clinching game against the Lady Patriots, Garrett threw a complete-game shutout.
“Westside is a really big rival and we really wanted to beat them, so I came out determined to help my team do the best we could and win,” she said. “We hit the ball really well. It made me more relaxed to come into the game and pitch when we scored more runs.”
Harlem will play host to Thomasville in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs Wednesday, with a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. If necessary, the two teams will play a third game the following day.
YOUTHFUL SUCCESS: Another youth movement led to another dominating tournament sweep and area title for a different program.
Greenbrier’s volleyball team swept its way to an Area 2-AAAAA Championship on Saturday with three convincing wins on the final day.
The Lady Wolfpack, who stand at 8-1 in region play, swept matches against Northside-Warner Robins and Houston County twice for the area title, their third consecutive championship and fourth in five years.
It marked the second consecutive year that Greenbrier took the route of one win against Northside and two wins against Houston County for the title.
Greenbrier has just one senior on the roster, Gabbi Meyering, who had seven kills and four aces in the winning match.
Greenbrier will play host to Stephenson in the first round of the state tournament Thursday.
PLAYOFF BOUND: Lakeside will play host to Evans in a battle of area schools in the first round of the Class AAAAA volleyball tournament Thursday.
Hephzibah will travel to River Ridge for the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs Wednesday. Laney plays host to Brooks County in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on the same day. A.R. Johnson travels to Kendrick for its first-round matchup.
Westside plays host to Early County as a No. 1 seed in the Class AA tournament. Josey will travel to Spencer. Aquinas will travel to Hebron Christian Academy in Class A.