Raider head coach Doug Kesler took his seniors aside recently and reminded them that the accomplishments board at the Raiders’ softball field has been left blank the last two seasons.
Madison County missed the state playoffs in 2006 and 2007.
“I told them that they needed to not leave this year blank,” Kesler said.
The first step in adding fresh paint to that board comes Tuesday. Madison County opens region tournament play at the Madison County Recreation Department against Rockdale County, seeking its first trip to state since 2005.
The Raiders play at 4 p.m. If they win, the team plays again at 6 p.m.
Two wins at region would send Madison County to state.
But Kesler sees this group as not only a contender for a state playoff spot, but for a region crown, too.
The Raiders fashioned a 19-7 regular season and earned a no. 2 seed out of the subregion with a 7-3 record in divisional play.
Madison County ended its regular season Tuesday by blasting Winder-Barrow 13-1 in just five innings.
“I think it’s very realistic,” Kesler said of region title run. “If we play like we did tonight (Tuesday), there’s not a team over there we can’t beat.”
In that win over Winder-Barrow, Madison County pushed five runs across the plate in the first inning en route to the lopsided win. The team had the postseason on the mind in what Kesler called perhaps the most complete performance of the year.
“When we went out there, we said the region tournament starts tonight,” Kesler said.
Now, the 11th-year coach hopes his squad — which has ended its last five games early via run rule — is peaking at the right time.
If Madison County beats Rockdale in the first round of region, it would move on to face a daunting foe in
8B-AAAA sub-region champ Loganville (21-4).
“It’s a tough one, but we don’t have a problem with that,” Kesler said.
NOTES: If Madison County were to lose to Rockdale County, it wouldn’t play again until 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The Raiders would face the loser of Apalachee-Heritage/Habersham Central game.
Raiders close regular season with blowout wins
Madison County’s 13-1 win over Winder-Barrow Tuesday came after the Bulldoggs had pulled off a surprise win over Habersham Central.
But the Raiders made sure there wouldn’t be another upset in Winder-Barrow’s résumé, striking for five scores in the first inning as Madison County earned its 19th win of the year.
The Raiders added two insurance scores in the second inning, three in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Katie Bolin drove home four runs in a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Other offensive leaders were Heather Echols (3-for-3), Sam LeZear (2-for-2) and Olivia Duncan (3-for-4).
Megan Kesler pitched four innings, giving up two hits and one run while striking out six. Gibson came on and threw a perfect fifth inning.
Five days earlier, Megan Kesler threw a run-rule shortened, four-inning perfect game on Senior Day and went 3-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs in the Raiders’ 12-0 win over Clarke Central.