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Lady Rams ready to make state-ment

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

SYLVESTER -- It could come down to a bunt.

Honest.

You look at Worth County's softball team, where four girls have combined for 21 home runs and the heart of a lineup sends a pair of twins -- Heather and Haley Ellis -- to the plate who can hit with anyone, and there's a sense the Lady Rams can just play bombs away softball.

But Worth coach Russell Beard and his kids remember all too well what happened a year ago when Worth was knocked out in the first round of the state tournament.

"It might come down to a bunt,'' said Beard, whose team opens the state playoffs with a doubleheader that starts at 4 p.m. at home today against Cross Creek in the best of three series.

"I think we're a little stronger this year,'' he said. "Our pitching is a little better and our defense is a lot better. Last year when we lost to Woodland in the first round, we made too many errors in the first game and we never could get the big hit. I think this team is more capable of getting that hit.

"They are all capable of hitting the ball to right field and they all bunt. We couldn't do that last year. Last year we only had two or three kids who could bunt. This year everyone bunts. If we get a runner at third or at second with one out we can bunt.''

Worth is 26-2 and stormed into the playoffs with an impressive run through the Region 1-AAA tournament, scoring 34 runs in three games. All four members of what beard calls his Four-headed Monster'' hit home runs in the tournament.

Haley Ellis hit two bombs, Heather hit one homer and both twins belted several shots off the wall. Kimmy Lee and Lauren Potts each hit home runs in the tournament. Potts and Lee had their own double-doubles as Potts homered and went the distance on the mound in the title game, and Lee homered and stole home in the semifinal game.

The Worth kids are confident, but Beard said they are not overconfident.

"Last year I think we were a little too confident,'' he said. "We had gone to the Final Eight the year before and I think we started (the state playoffs) thinking, OK we're going back to the Final Eight. I think we got caught up in that.''

Not this time. At least the kids don't think so.

"I don't want that losing feeling again,'' said Haley Ellis, who catches and hits cleanup.

Worth is the No. 1 seed and that means playing a No. 4 seed in Cross Creek (15-14), but Beard knows better.

"They have played some good teams and are a lot better than their record,'' Beard said. "We're going to have to play.''

Beard also said the chemistry of this year's team is much better than a year ago.

"We were a good solid ball club last year, but we had two players quit,'' he said. "We haven't had any turmoil this year.''

The Worth kids like each other and it shows on and off the field.

"We have confidence in each other,'' said Lee, who leads off and plays first, second or third depending on who is pitching.

"Yeah, we like each other,'' said Heather with a smack of sarcasm. "We're family.''

Beard said he feels this year's team is ready.

"We've been playing real loose all week in practice,'' he said. "And when we do that we're usually pretty good.''

Americus-Sumter (7-22) was the fourth seed from Region 1-AAA and faces Region 3-AAA champ Thomson (18-8) on the road today today in the opening round of the playoffs and Crisp County (14-1) is at home today in Cordele, where the Lady Cougars will face Washington County (17-11) in a doubleheader.