Silver Bluff center fielder Deidre Simmons admits she was rooting for Crescent to beat Gilbert in the Upper State Finals last week.
It was only natural, because she and her Bulldogs teammates want another crack at Crescent, the team that ended their softball title hopes a year ago in the final series.
Crescent defeated Gilbert 7-0 on Saturday to advance to the Class AA state title series, a day after Silver Bluff scored a 3-0 victory over Andrews in the Lower State championship. Today at 6 p.m. in the opening game of the best-of-three Class AA series, Silver Bluff takes on Crescent in Petticoat Junction. Crescent will be the home team for Game 2 on Wednesday. The third game, if necessary, will be played Friday at a neutral site.
"We want Crescent real bad," Simmons said Friday after going 3-for-4 in the Lady Bulldogs Lower State championship win against Andrews. "We wanted them to win their (Upper State championship) game, so we can play them again."
The Lady Bulldogs want their revenge on a traditional softball power that has beaten Silver Bluff every time the Lady Bulldogs have made the championship finals (1983 and 2001).
"We want to face them again," Silver Bluff second baseman Stephanie Loudermilk said. "We're happy to be back in the finals, and we want to beat them in two games and not have to play three."
The Lady Bulldogs (29-3) had their chances last season in the finals against the Lady Tigers (27-1). And after beating Crescent 6-0 in first game last season, Silver Bluff lost the final two.
This year, Simmons is determined not to let the opportunity slip away.
"It feels good to be back, because we've been given a second chance," Simmons said. "We have to finish what we didn't accomplish last year."
Even with Bridget Loudermilk (26-3), who has been outstanding all year - pitching four perfect games and three no-hitters, the chore to finish off the Crescent will be a tough one.
As Silver Bluff coach Eric Hofstetter said, it's hard to beat tradition.
"But we're close," he said. "And we've got a shot. That's all we ask for. We'll celebrate this (Lower State championship), but we won't really start celebrating until after we win the state."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org