The first games of the high school football season are stirring up plenty of excitement, but the action will be just as fierce on the softball diamond this weekend.
Now firmly entrenched as an early season staple in the area softball landscape, the 20th annual Battle in the Boro — hosted by Statesboro High School — opens up play today at 4 p.m. at Mill Creek Regional Park.
Statesboro will play host to a plethora of teams from all over south Georgia in a pool style tournament that will take place at four of the five Mill Creek Park fields. The Blue Devil’s will play Savannah Christian and Treutlen County on Friday at 4 and 6 p.m. respectively. Then Saturday Statesboro will play Brantley County and Dublin at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in that order.
“It’s looking like a round-robin style tournament this year,” said Statesboro head coach Jim Simmons. “The winner should be the team with the best overall record. We’d go head-to-head and then run-differential for the tie-breakers.”
Treutlen County and Savannah Christian are a combined 2-7 and shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Statesboro, who are staring down the barrell of their best season under Simmons. Statesboro has already seen the likes of Dublin this season, taking out the Irish 9-1 back on Aug. 17. The Blue Devil’s held Dublin to just two hits in the game, but Dublin (4-3) are coming off back-to-back wins of 17-0 and 18-0.
“We’ve got a good mix of teams this year,” Simmons said. “They come from all classifications and from all locations.”
The big challenge will come against Brantley County, who are undefeated at 5-0 and have three shutout victories this season. The Herons are one of the best teams in Georgia, and may just be the best team Statesboro faces all season.
“This will give us a good chance to tighten up some stuff for region play,” Simmons said. “We can shuffle some people around to see where they’ll play best against some good teams.”
Games will have a time limit of an hour and thirty minutes, but there is a five inning minimum for each game. Each team will essentially play a doubleheader with that format, so each team gets at least two games whether they play Friday, Saturday or both.
“People really enjoy this tournament, Statesboro had become a nice central location for everyone to meet at,” Simmons said. “It affords everyone the time to prepare for tournament style games like they’ll see in their region tournament and the state playoffs.”
Other participants will be Camden County (3-3), Brunswick (1-3) and Jenkins County (3-4). Home teams will be determined by a coin-flip. If a game is tied past the hour and a half time limit, the international tie-breaker rule will go into effect. For softball, the ITB puts a runner at second base at the start of the next inning for a greater scoring opportunity.