Matt Yogus-051011Listen to My Take with Matt Yogus - Eagle Softball in prime position
Not to put too much pressure on Georgia Southern coach Maggie Johnson and her Lady Eagles, but there are plenty of reasons why things couldn’t have worked out much better heading into the Southern Conference softball tournament.
Not the least of which being that they’re hosting it.
For only the second time in program history, the Eagles will be the only team not spending the better part of tournament week in a hotel.
Mix that in with the home facilities, the home crowd and the rest of the home routine, and it’s easy to see why the Eagles are in a position to be very successful.
They have a loyal group of fans to begin with, but when you factor in the high level of prep softball played around here from the Bulloch County teams out to Screven and Metter, to the success of the travel squads in the area, there will be plenty of folks showing up to Eagle Field anxious to see somebody punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Of course, there’s also the well-known fact that it’s awfully hard to win a tournament without some top-tier pitching, and the Eagles have that, too.
Brianna Streetmon made a name for herself after receiving SoCon Pitcher of the Year honors in both 2009 and 2010, and this year, she was joined on the staff this year by Allie Miles, the recent recipient of the league’s Freshman of the Year award.
Marie Fogle (first-team, All-SoCon) and Megen Smith (second-team, All-SoCon) prove that GSU has bats in the lineup, too.
Already, things look good for the Eagles, but wait, there’s more.
Georgia Southern was the only team that had a bye in the final week of regular-season, SoCon play. So, while everybody else was fighting it out for seeding over the weekend, the Eagles needed only to sit back, rest up and watch.
Okay, so it’s not all smiles and sunshine for GSU.
There wasn’t a whole lot of momentum heading into the bye week, as No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Chattanooga swept the Eagles to close regular-season play, but rest assured that there’s no love lost between those two programs, and that the Eagles would like nothing more than to get another shot at UTC in the tournament.
Also, by virtue of Appalachian State’s series win over Western Carolina during GSU’s weekend off, the Lady Mountaineers dropped the Eagles down to the No. 3 seed. Still, all that means is that it will play UNC Greensboro Wednesday in the first round instead of Furman, and the Georgia Southern swept both of those teams, anyway.
There’s plenty of competition — UTC and its fifth-straight, regular-season title and defending tournament champion Elon being the most notable — but to me, regardless of the outcome, the biggest winner is Statesboro.
It’s the community’s chance to show the Southern Conference and the NCAA that hosting an event in Statesboro, Ga. is a good idea, be it a conference tournament or an NCAA regional.
And why not?
Regardless of the outcome, it will no doubt be an exciting week of competition.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.