"I'm excited, but I think I'm just enjoying it mostly and ... living for the moment," said Kaye Sullins, who is in her first state tournament after transferring from Cartersville along with her sister, Kelly, before their senior seasons. "I'm enjoying everything."
Excel Christian assistant coach Michael Adcock wants players to do just that -- live in the moment.
"The big thing is you tell 'em, 'Live in the moment and have fun. Enjoy yourselves,'" Adcock said. "At the end of the day, if you're putting too much pressure on the kids and they're putting too much pressure on themselves, they're not having fun and the end result is they're gonna tighten up and tense up.
"In the world of sports -- in crucial, clutch situations -- those who succeed are those who are relaxed and who are focused and basically have ice in their veins."
The Lady Eagles (25-4) won their most games ever in a season and earned a No. 2 seed for the Georgia High School Association state tournament after finishing as runner-up to Gordon Lee in the Region 6-A tournament.
A coin toss, held in Kennesaw, determined the host team for Excel's first-round matchup with the Lady Patriots (16-11), the No. 2 seed out of Region 9-A.
"Everybody likes to play at home, and you have a little bit more confidence," said Adcock, as the Lady Eagles prepare to host their first-ever state game. "Being in a familiar environment, for us, I think that breeds consistency with us. We do a better job of getting ready to play."
Indeed, it will be important for Excel -- which averaged seven runs and gave up two runs per game during the regular season -- to play well in the field.
"We've got to be consistent defensively. We've got to make the routine plays," said Adcock, who estimated eight out of 10 plays are routine. "If you can make the routine play, when it comes down to it, you'll be successful."
"I think it's important (to play well) just because you have to practice hard and if you don't practice hard, then you're gonna commit errors," Kaye Sullins said. "That's a biggie in the state playoffs."
Janna Scheff also agreed that how you practice can often translate to game-day performance.
"If we continue to make the plays in practice, it definitely shows during our games," Scheff said, the team's senior pitcher.
Should the Lady Eagles avoid key defensive miscues, a team that hit 30-plus home runs and boasts one of the top pitchers in the state could advance further than a year ago when they were among the state quarterfinalists in Columbus.
"We have the mentality there's not a pitcher in the state we can't hit. We've proven that. There's not any pitcher in the state that we can't hit the long ball off of," Adcock said. "That's just the nature of this team."
"Our pitching is without a doubt, we always get an 'A' effort from Janna. She carries us," he continued. "So we know what we'll get there, we've just gotta back her up and make the plays. And if we do that, we've got a chance to be very successful and put ourselves in a situation not to only make it to Columbus but win a championship."
Excel, which is ranked No. 3 in the Ga.PrepCountry.com Class A coaches' poll, begins that quest against No. 10-ranked Strong Rock, which it beat 4-2 in the SCORE International Invitational last month in Chattanooga.
"I think anytime you've seen a team and you've beat 'em then obviously you have an edge over them," Adcock said.
However, the Lady Eagle coach knows the Lady Patriots didn't stumble upon a state playoff berth by accident.
"They're a solid team. They're in the state playoffs for a reason," Adcock added. "They're ranked in the top 10 for a reason.
"We've got to be aggressive and have the mindset we're out there looking to hit the ball hard somewhere and score runs."
And through it all, Excel players will take heed to what coaches are telling them.
"I told the kids the other day, even our seniors, 'You guys are all good enough and probably will go on to play college softball. There's no guarantee you'll ever be on a winning team,'" Adcock recalled. "'Who knows how many years you'll be able to start again? Who knows when the injury's gonna set in? Who knows, you guys returning, who knows if you'll ever make it back to the state playoffs? ... Nothing's ever guaranteed, so live in the moment, enjoy it and have fun.'
"And that's all you can do."
The Lady Eagles host Strong Rock at 2:30 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, with a third game scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, if necessary.