One of the largest high school softball tournaments in all of Georgia takes place this weekend as 13 teams descend on Mill Creek Regional Park for the annual Battle in the Boro tournament hosted by Statesboro.
The softball season has been underway for a few weeks now, but the Battle in the Boro offers one of the final chances for schools to enter a tournament and face quality competition before region schedules begin.
“This is always an exciting time for our team,” said SHS coach Jim Simmons. “We’re very proud to be able to host this tournament each season and it’s great how popular it has become.”
One of the most interesting traits of the tournament is the diversity among the participating schools. All five classifications of the GHSA will have at least one member present as some of the smallest schools will go toe-to-toe with some of the largest, with a lot of middling schools in between.
In many sports, such a large disparity in the size of schools competing would lead to lopsided — if not boring — games. That isn’t the case at the Battle in the Boro as Screven proved last season when the Class AA Lady Gamecocks defeated Class AAAA South Effingham in the tournament championship game.
“Softball is one of those sports where the size of a school doesn’t matter as much,” said Simmons. “In our area especially, there are some great teams competing at the single-A and double-A level. This tournament isn’t about how big the school is. It’s a chance for a lot of quality programs to play a weekend full of good softball.”
Although the Lady Blue Devils are the hosts this weekend, no favors were done in terms of scheduling. Statesboro is slated to play Class AAA No. 1 Walnut Grove in its opening game of pool play before taking on two more solid teams in Bradwell Institute and Cross Creek.
Still, the Devils’ good start to their season has them looking forward to the opportunity.
“Obviously, with so many great teams, making it the whole way through will be tough for any school,” said Simmons. “Going out and trying to win is good, but playing so many games in just a few days also helps with how we’ll look at the rest of the season.
“With all of these games, we’ll get a chance to move some girls around to different positions. Seeing who can play in a different spot could be a big help if we need it later in the year.”
After opening with Walnut Grove at 4 p.m. today, the Devils play their second pool game tonight at 8:30 p.m. against Bradwell. An early wakeup call will have SHS on the field against Cross Creek Saturday at 9 a.m.
After pool play concludes, new brackets will be drawn that will group teams with corresponding pool finishes. Semifinals for each new bracket will begin at 12:30 p.m. with the championship games scheduled to start at 5:45.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.