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The Battle begins
Statesboro's Kristen Kingery pitches against East Laurens during the 2012 Battle in the Boro softball tournament at Mill Creek Regional Park in this Saturday, Aug. 25, file photo. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

2013 Battle in the Boro
Today's Games

3 p.m.
    Statesboro vs. Portal
    Wheeler County vs. East Laurens
    Wayne County vs. Bradwell
    Treutlen County vs. South Effingham
5 p.m.
    Dublin vs. Cross Creek
    Liberty County vs. Screven County
    New Hampstead vs. Wheeler Co.
    Ware County vs. Treutlen County
7 p.m.
    Cross Creek vs. Swainsboro
    Parkview vs. Liberty County
    Wayne Co. vs. Savannah Christian
    East Laurens vs. Portal
9 p.m.
    Dublin vs. Swainsboro
    Screven County vs. Parkview
    Savannah Christian vs. Bradwell
    South Effingham vs. Ware County

    Plenty of games have already been lost due to inclement weather early in this softball season, but 17 teams from all around the region will have a chance to get some innings under their belts as Statesboro hosts its Annual ‘Battle in the Boro’ today and Saturday at Mill Creek Regional Park.
    This season features one of the largest fields in tournament history as it tops the 16 teams that participated in 2012.
    “Obviously, we wanted to be accommodating and didn’t want to tell anyone ‘no’,” SHS coach Jim Simmons said. “I think that we’ve got a good setup and should be able to make this a good experience for all of the players and fans.”
    Once again, the
tournament has drawn in schools from all classifications, giving some smaller schools a chance to test themselves against tough teams from higher classifications.
    Of course, with the way the last two months have gone, all plans for the weekend should come with the warning of ‘weather permitting’.
    Three of the Blue Devils’ first five games of the season have been rained out. The latest — a tilt against New Hampstead scheduled for Tuesday — had most of the fields at Mill Creek underwater.
    “I have to give a lot of credit and thanks to the staff working to get these fields fixed up,” Simmons said. “They’ve done a great job of getting all of the fields into playing condition and we certainly need all of them with so many teams participating.”
    The Blue Devils will treat the tournament as a sort of extended preseason. Similar lineups were used in the two games that they have been able to play, so Simmons is looking to tweak the lineup and see how his team holds up to the wear and tear of four games in two days.
    This year’s tournament will shape up a bit differently than in years past. The biggest change stems from a new GHSA rule mandating that all varsity games —tournament or not — must be full seven-inning contests. Because of this, the 1-hour, 15-minute time limit that has kept games moving along in previous seasons has been scrapped. The longer anticipated game times mean that each team will only play four games this season instead of the normal five.
    Today’s games will all be pool play as the field is split into five divisions. Statesboro, Portal, East Laurens, Wheeler County and New Hampstead are the only five-team division and will continue pool play on Saturday.
    Amongst the other four divisions, pool play will determine seeding for Saturday’s bracket play, with championship games for each tier slated for 5 p.m.
    Statesboro will kick off the tournament this afternoon with a bit of déjà vu as the Devils face Portal — the only team they’ve been able to get a game in against so far this season — at 3 p.m. Other opening games include Wheeler County vs. East Laurens, Wayne County vs. Bradwell Institute and Treutlen vs. South Effingham.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.