By Jonathan Deal
Athens begins its quest for another state softball championship at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park today. Athens (37-17) is scheduled to play Briarwood Christian (24-13-1) at 10:30 a.m. in the opening round.
Athens will face either Moody or Rehobeth at 3 p.m. today. Friday’s championship game is 4 or 5:30 p.m., depending if the winner loses a game.
The Golden Eagles enter today’s games as one of the hottest teams in the tournament. They breezed through last weekend’s North Regional, featuring six teams that were ranked at one point in the season. Athens beat Etowah 13-3, Scottsboro 8-7 and Hartselle 8-1 to advance in straight games.
Hartselle fought through the loser’s bracket to get to state and will face Valley in its opening game. Athens would not meet Hartselle until the semifinals of the winner’s bracket or Friday morning in the loser’s bracket.
Athens, the 2010 state champion, is the most recent state champion to make the 5A bracket. The previous three state champions — Mortimer-Jordan, Hayden and Chelsea — were all eliminated in regional tournaments.
Athens is one of five unranked teams to make the eight-team field in 5A. No. 2 Curry, No. 4 Hartselle and No 6 Valley were the only teams ranked in the final poll to advance.
Check www.enewscourier.com today for updates.