The East Jackson softball team earned a spot in the AAA State Playoffs with a pair of victories over Stephens County on Saturday (Oct. 2).
The Eagles defeated the Indians 5-4 and 5-1 in a best-of-three series Saturday with the playoff spot on the line. East Jackson also enters the Region 8-AAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The tournament is scheduled for Friday (Oct. 8) and the Eagles will play No. 2 seed Oconee County in the first round.
However, if the tournament is rained on Friday and Saturday, the GHSA will use region standings to decide the state tournament bracket. East Jackson would enter as the No. 3 seed.
Hannah Williamson led East Jackson (10-6, 8-4) Region 8-AAA with a walk-off hit to defeat Stephens County in game one. The Eagle defense led the way in the second game.
The victories completed a meteoric rise for East Jackson in Jerry Boatner’s first year as head coach. The Eagles finished 2020 with a 9-14 record and were fifth in the region standings. The last time East Jackson competed in the AAA State Playoffs was in 2017, a year after winning the AAA State Championship.
Despite having a new coach and multiple first-year players, East Jackson has firmly been the third-best team in the region since defeating Hart County on August 26. The Eagles went on to sweep the Bulldogs, Monroe Area and Stephens County in the regular season and sat alone in third place when the regular season ended.
REGION 8-AAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
No. 1 seed Franklin County (18-6, 10-0) once again has its eyes on a AAA State Championship after last winning it in 2018. The Lions ran away with the no. 1 seed by sweeping every team in the region. East Jackson lost to Franklin County 7-0 in the first game (Sept. 9) and 6-2 in the most recent meeting (Sept. 28).
The Eagles’ first-round opponent is No. 2 seed Oconee County (9-11, 7-3 Region 8-AAA). The Warriors swept East Jackson in the regular season 7-1 (Aug. 24) and 8-2 (Sept. 14). Since that last meeting, Oconee County has struggled. The Warriors even lost to Monroe Area on Sept. 22.
The last team in the tournament is No. 4 seed Hart County (7-13, 6-6 Region 8-AAA). The Bulldogs failed to beat Franklin County, Oconee County and East Jackson in the regular season. The Eagles blew out Hart County 9-2 on Sept. 29.
The tournament starts at noon on Friday, Oct. 8 with Franklin County vs. Hart County. East Jackson plays Oconee County at 2 p.m. The losers of the first two games meet at 4 p.m. to decide which team enters the AAA State Playoffs as the No. 3 seed. The winners of the first two games will play for the Region 8-AAA Championship at 6 p.m.