Both local teams will kick off the 2012 season by playing in the Lady Devils Fall Classic at Alto Park in Rome hosted by Model.
“I think the girls are ready to play,” said Gordon Central coach Brian Little. “Practices get old after a while, and they are ready to compete.”
Sonoraville coach Chad Hayes echoed those remarks and said the tournament will be good to give his players something to mark their progress since the start of practice.
“I think this weekend will be a good measure of just how ready we are,” said Hayes. “It will be good to get some games in before we start our region schedule next week. Overall, I think we are in a good place right now in terms of being ready to go.”
The 16-team field will be divided up into four separate pools with each team playing the other three teams in their pool once apiece. After pool play is over on Saturday morning, all the teams will be re-divided based on their pool record and be assigned to the Gold (No. 1 pool finishers), Silver (No. 2), Bronze (No. 3) and Blue (No. 4) brackets where they will play against three new teams.
The field features a lot of good teams, which is a bonus for both local teams according to the coaches.
“As a coach, I feel that starting out with a tournament like this lets you see where your players are and if they are ready,” said Little, who enters his second year as the Gordon Central head coach. “And you get a chance to fix things that might come up before you get into region play.”
The tournament opener will be the first game as head coach of the Lady Phoenix for Hayes, who took over for Carissa Roustan over the summer after Roustan left for the head job at Roswell High. Hayes was an assistant coach for Roustan last season. He said the high level of play at the tournament will prepare his team for what’s to come.
“Our region is going to be tough, so opening against some solid competition will be huge leading into region games next week,” said Hayes. “Hopefully, our girls can see the level we have to compete at this weekend and carry it over into our region schedule.”
Both Gordon Central and Sonoraville will be playing in a new region this season as they both move up to Region 5-AAA. LFO, Ringgold, North Murray, Coahulla Creek, Adairsville and Cartersville are the other six teams that make up the region.
Both Little and Hayes are looking for several things from their team this weekend as the kick off the season.
“I think the main thing I want to see is where we are from a team-chemistry standpoint,” said Hayes. “Having our girls on the same page and also on the same page as the coaching staff will be key to a successful season for us. Aside from that, I want to see hard-nosed, fundamental softball on offense and defense.”
“I want to see if the girls can handle the challenge, and if the seniors are going to step up and be the leaders they need to be for their team,” added Little.
Both teams will be looking for several wins in the Lady Devil Classic in order to prove to themselves that they are a good team.
“Winning always breeds confidence,” said Hayes. “So naturally, you want to win these early games to create momentum going into the games that count toward the region standings. Our season didn’t end the way we would’ve liked last year so I think our girls are anxious to get back at it and build some early-season momentum that we can ride into a strong finish.”
Gordon Central opens the tournament on Friday against Armuchee at 5 p.m., and Sonoraville plays Bremen at 6:30 p.m. in their first game. Along with the Lady Warriors in Pool A will be Armuchee, Dalton and Woodland. Along with Sonoraville in Pool D is Bremen, Pepperell and Model.
While GC and Sonoraville are seeing for their first live action this weekend in Rome, the Calhoun Lady Yellow Jackets will be gearing up for their season opener. The Lady Jackets will play in the Kennesaw Mountain Dugout Tournament, which starts on Wednesday Aug. 15.