Now the Lady Canes are into the second round of the state playoffs.
However, Holsomback’s team is not satisfied with the turnaround of the program and is looking for more as the team hosts today’s second round state playoff match against Oconee County.
“They have the focused goal to get to the Elite 8 and that’s what they intend to do,” Holsomback said of his squad. “I don’t know if excited is the right word. I think focused is the right word. They have a goal and they’re doing what they need to do to achieve that goal, so it’s sort of a tempered excitement.”
In order to reach the Elite 8, Cartersville will have to win a three-game series over the next two days. The first two games will be played at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. today.
If necessary, the final game will be played Thursday.
Oconee County may be a new opponent for the Cartersville softball team, but for the athletics program, the Warriors are a familiar state tournament foe. Both the Lady Canes’ basketball and soccer teams were eliminated in the state tournament last year by Oconee County.
“I don’t know much about them, but I just think they obviously have a decent starting pitcher. You have to have strong pitching to get through and that’s just what the game’s based on,” Holsomback said. “I just feel confident in our ability and what we’ve been doing all season and where we are at this point.”
The Lady Canes should feel confident after their dramatic comeback in their first round playoff series against East Hall.
“Being down a game and being down 5-1 with two outs in the fourth inning of the state playoff game, and you come back to win, that’s just amazing will,” Holsomback said of his team’s first round comeback against East Hall. “The biggest thing is our girls’ determination to never quit. That something you can’t coach.”
Oconee County defeated East Hall by a score of 3-1 on Aug. 29. East Hall is the only mutual opponent Cartersville has with the Warriors this season. Oconee finished the season 18-17 and dismantled Woodward Academy in just two games in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Warriors have allowed an average of two runs per game against them since the beginning of their region tournament, likely meaning the Lady Canes’ hitters will be challenged.
Cartersville has scored at least nine runs in three out of their last four games, so Holsomback’s team is prepared for the challenge.
The team also will have the added bonus of homefield advantage, which it did not have during last week’s first-round playoff series. Against East Hall, Cartersville baseball coach Stuart Chester called in a favor to allow the Lady Canes to hit in Gainesville’s indoor facility before their games. That helped lessen the disadvantages from having to make the 89-mile trip to East Hall and gave the Lady Canes a place to warm up.
This time around, Cartersville will be playing on its home field, making Oconee travel 96 miles on both Wednesday and, if necessary, Thursday.
“I think we started to have a huge community following. We had several people show up at East Hall that I didn’t expect. I was very appreciative of their support,” Holsomback said. “We’re just going to have a sea of purple come out Wednesday. Hopefully folks will find their way out even on a cold night.”