The No. 3 state-ranked Purple Hurricanes meet in a best-of-three series at Richard Bell Field. Cartersville is the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA, (21-4, 18-2) and the Rams are the No. 4 seed in Region 5-AAA (16-8, 11-4).
Game one begins at 4 p.m. Game 2 starts after a break is held upon completion of Game 1. A third game will be played Saturday at 1 p.m., if necessary.
The contest pits Cartersville's strong defensive play against a team from Lithonia that likes to challenge its opponents.
"It ought to be an interesting series," head coach Stuart Chester said. "They throw strikes, and they don't beat themselves. They are loaded with speed, and speed never slumps."
He said the Canes will have opportunities to make plays. "They'll try to put pressure on our defense. They will try to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples."
Offensively, the coach said, Cane batters can expect a lot of balls around the plate at different velocities. "I know they throw strikes with a lot of off-speed pitches. They locate the ball very well, and that can give anybody problems."
Chester said Cartersville wants to meet the challenge. "We're somewhat healthy, and we're tired of practicing and are ready to play."
The season for the Purple Hurricanes started with two losses, against AAAAA powers Lassiter and Parkview, and then Cartersville plowed over its next 13 opponents, all but one a region contest, before falling to Allatoona, now ranked No. 4 in Georgia.
Cartersville followed that loss with seven wins before falling last week to Allatoona again.
The Canes captured their region this year with strong defensive play, big and small ball, and steady pitching.
The Canes, who held opponents to two runs per game, got solid defensive play starting with catcher Taylor Wilson and up the middle from Connor Justus, at shortstop; Ben Venters, at second base; and Zach Ross, in center right field.
"Connor has always played that position," Chester said. "We've moved Zach around and he's really gotten comfortable there. Ben played third last year. I think he's a natural second baseman.
"It took a few games for them to get comfortable, but their confidence in one another is where it needs to be."
He said that defensive play is one of the foundations upon which the team is built and could help them extend their season. "They've played good baseball this season, but I believe the best is yet to come."
Chester said every batter on the team has contributed at the plate, and that hitting is a big part of the reason the Canes averaged 10 runs per contest. "That's been one of the keys for us offensively. [In batting slots] one through nine, we've done very well."
The Hurricane offense tied a hallowed team record.
"We hit 39 [home runs] in the regular season," Chester said. "We tied the record set in 2002 through 25 games. Of course that team then hit 42 home runs in the playoffs."
This season's Canes were led in home runs by Colin Bennett and Venters, who tied in that category.
Cartersville also has manufactured its share of runs with what is commonly called small ball, a style of play where players get on base and advance any way they can, whether by stealing a base, using the hit and run or profiting from a ball that comes a little too close to the batter.
For instance, this year's team has gotten on base through its batters being hit by pitches 41 times.
"That's something we do at certain times, and there is a philosophy behind our small ball that I don't want to go into," Chester said. "It gets better as the year goes on. It probably won us the series against Columbus in 2008."
As always, the Canes have solid pitching. This year they had five pitchers who threw more than 20 innings each during the regular season.
That mound talent recorded six shutouts, five games in which one run was given up, and four games in which two runs were surrendered.
Rams pitchers did not record a shutout, but they did limit their opponents to one run in one game and to two runs three times. The team scored an average eight runs per game and gave up six.
The winner of this week's series advances to play the LaGrange vs. North Hall champion.
The Canes -- the Georgia Dugout Club's Team of the Decade -- are hoping to continue their unparalleled success in the playoffs in the past decade. Cartersville has won the state playoffs in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. It did not claim a region title in 2001, its first year as the state's top team.
The Canes were region champs in 1963, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.