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Gamecocks riding region title to state
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    SYLVANIA — The Screven County Lady Gamecocks stumbled in the last game of the regular season, dropping the finale to Southeast Bulloch 6-1.
    They bounced back, sweeping the Region 3-AA tournament and earning the No. 1 seed in the South Sectionals of the GHSA Class AA State Tournament. But coach Billy Pollock feels that his young Gamecocks are just getting started.
    “I told the girls to enjoy Saturday and Sunday because they were region champions. As of Monday, that no longer existed,” said Pollock, who hopes his team will keep all eyes toward Friday’s matchup against No. 4 seed Fitzgerald. “I told them not to let the region championship be the highlight of their softball season.”
    Some of the players are no strangers to the state playoffs — this is the third trip for the seniors on the team — but with five freshmen in the starting lineup, the leadership of the older teammates will play an important role.
    “You have over half of your team that has not been in a situation like we were (in the region tournament),” said Pollock, “and they responded well. The seniors have done a great job of leading those freshmen and calming those pre-game jitters. They’ve said, ‘Hey, we got this.’ This is something that we’ve worked for.”
    The No. 1 seed will prove helpful to Screven County. Pollock feels that the Fitzgerald match up is more favorable than the alternative.
    “We got away from a Dodge County team that finished 23-1,” Pollock said, “which is what we really wanted to do. But once you get to this level, you could be beat by any team. It’s just according to who shows up to play.”
    Fitzgerald (18-14, 6-6 Region 1-AA) comes in as the No. 4 seed out of their region. The game is at 4 p.m. Friday at the Paulson Complex in Savannah.
    With a win over the Purple Hurricanes, the Gamecocks will take on the winner of the Vidalia/Pierce County matchup at 8 p.m. Friday. A loss would put them in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament and they  would begin play Saturday at 10 a.m.
    “You get to this stage of the game,” Pollock said, “and you can’t overlook anybody. One through four is going to be decent. You’re going to see good pitching, great defense and good hitting. So we just have to go play our game and hopefully earn that trip to Columbus again.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.