Last year, Madison County watched as other teams celebrated state tournament berths at the Raiders’ expense.
This time, it’s someone else dealing with that pain. Madison County is headed to Woodstock — Ga. that is.
By virtue of two wins at the region tournament, Madison County will make a long awaited trip back to the 16-team Class AAAA North Sectionals at Woodstock’s Hobgood Park as a no. 4 seed. It’s the Raiders first trip since 2005.
“We needed to get over that hump and get back in,” said 11th-year coach Doug Kesler, whose team narrowly missed the state playoffs last season. “We’ve done that now. But we don’t want them to rest on what they’ve accomplished.”
Madison County will make its seventh trip to state in the program’s 11 years of existence. Only seniors Taylor Morgan and Megan Kesler remain from that 2005 varsity team which last reached state.
“They get to go back and now all these other girls get to experience that,” Kesler said.
The Raiders open against no. 1 seed Hillgrove (24-10-1) Friday at 4 p.m. The Cobb County school out of Region 7-AAAA possesses at least three strong bats and a solid pitcher, Kesler said.
A win pits Madison County against the winner of Sandy Creek-North Springs at 8 p.m. A loss sends it to the losers bracket Saturday at 10 a.m.
To get to Woodstock, Madison County had to beat Habersham Central on Friday at region after splitting its first two games there. The team plated four first-inning runs in the 5-3 victory in the do-or-die game.
“It sort of set the tone early,” Kesler said.
The Raiders then fell 6-1 to Apalachee later than night — a loss beset by defensive miscues — giving Madison County the no. 4 seed.
But the team is in the sectionals, and Kesler said there’s an “anything can happen” attitude now. The four teams surviving the North Sectionals move on to the quarterfinals in Columbus, Oct. 23-25. Kesler said there’s no reason this can’t be a tournament to remember.
“On paper, or anywhere else, you don’t have to be the best team,” he said. “You just have to be the best team that game.”